Artist Profile

Ferdinand Deppe


Ferdinand Deppe was a German naturalist, explorer, and painter, who collected natural history specimens from Mexico. He traveled extensively throughout Mexico from late 1824 until the spring of 1827. At times Deppe was accompanied by William Bullock, Jr., son of the English naturalist and collector William Bullock (c. 1773–1849), both of whom had gone to Mexico in 1823. Deppe returned to Mexico in the summer of 1828 with the German botanist Christian Wilhelm Schiede (1798–1836). They collected zoological and botanical specimens, which were sold to European museums and dealers, including the Natural History Museum in Berlin. The business, however, was not financially successful, and Deppe soon abandoned it.

Deppe then secured a position as a commission agent for merchants in Acapulco and Monterey, California. In Alta California, he worked as an agent for a hide trader from a German cattle company based in Mexico City. Alta California—which today encompasses the states of California, Nevada, Utah, northern Arizona, and southwestern Wyoming—was formed in 1804 when the Spanish province of California was divided into two parts, separating the Franciscan missions in the north from the Dominican missions in the south. In 1824, it became part of the newly independent United Mexican States, and foreigners were, for the first time, allowed to enter the territory. Deppe continued his travels throughout the region and then sailed for Berlin in 1836, traveling by way of Hawaii, where he collected more bird specimens. Sadly, he died in relative oblivion.



Works in Our Collection

Ferdinand Deppe
San Gabriel Mission
Oil on canvas, c.1832
27 x 37 inches
Gift of Nancy Dustin Wall Moure