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Description

Finely executed manuscript showing the heights of various points within Portugal, based upon the work of Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege.

Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege, a geologist, architect and metalurgist, who is perhaps most famous for designing the Palácio da Pena (1839-49), near Sintra, including the enlargement of the ruined monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena. Influenced by contemporary English and German developments in the Gothic Revival, it also embraced Manueline themes from Sintra and Tomar, so is an early 19th Century example of Portuguese eclecticism.

Von Eschwege was born November 10, 1777, in Aue bei Eschwege, Hessen, Germany, son of an aristocratic family. Destined for the army, he studied at the University of Göttingen (1796-1799) and was a contemporary of Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff. In Marburg, he first began work as a mining engineer, and became a consultant in the firm of Clausthal and Richelsdorf, in 1801.

Although some claim that he was a pupil of Abraham Gottlob Werner (1749-1817), the founder of modern mineralogy, there is no record of this contact. Intending a career in the military, his intellectual curiosity led him to acquire the eclectic academic background, a feature of European intellectuals of the nineteenth century. He studied law, natural sciences, architecture, science and political economy, forestry, mineralogy and landscaping.

Baron von Eschwege came to Portugal at the request of Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva, who invited skilled German workers to come work in the mining industry, where he initially served as Professor of Metallurgy. He remained in Portugal until 1810, holding the position of director of mines. During this time, he undertook prospecting trips throughout the country, collected geological and paleontological information, plus information on mining techniques and management of mines in Portugal and in the colonies. This enabled him to begin publishing several important works and exposed him to comprehensive intellectual network, which included among other luminaries, Goethe, Karl Marx and Alexander von Humboldt.

During his stay in Portugal he cataloged numerous aspects of Portuguese mineralogy and published a study of the fossilized shells of the region of Lisbon .

From 1803 to 1809 Baron Eschwege was the head of the artillery factory and dressings iron in Arega, Figueiró Wine, which manufactured, among many other articles of iron, cannons for the Portuguese armed forces.

Following the move of the Portuguese Court, Baron Eschwege went to Brazil in 1810, at the invitation of the Prince Regent D. John VI , to revive the declining gold mining industry in Brazil and to work in the nascent steel industry. He was also in charge of teaching engineering to future Army officers.

In 1810, Eschwege was named by the Prince Regent Dom João to the post of Royal Minister of Mineralogy of Rio de Janeiro. He remained in Brazil until 1821, with the rank of lieutenant colonel engineer and the title of "Superintendent of the Gold Mines" and curator of the Cabinet of Mineralogy.