A naturalist, traveler, and statesman, Humboldt was the most eminent German savant of his day. His later years were spent in Berlin at the court of the kings of Prussia. The culmination of his career was "Kosmos" (1845–62), a serial publication in five volumes which conveyed to the public at large the state of scientific knowledge at the time.
Reynolds and Baetjer [see Ref. 1996] note that the inscription identifying the sitter had been thought reliable, but that the resemblance to other portraits of Humboldt [published in Halina Nelkin, "Alexander von Humboldt: His Portraits and Their Artists" (Berlin, 1980)] is not compelling.