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- Claudio Gay was born in Provence, southern France, in 1800. In childhood he developed a deep fascination with the natural sciences. In his youth, he traveled extensively in parts of Europe under the direction of the Italian botanist Juan Bautista Balbis, visiting the French Alps, northern Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, and several Mediterranean islands. In 1828 the adventurer Pedro Chapuis invited him to come to Chile to teach geography. Gay accepted the offer, and lived in Chile until 1842, working as a teacher and participating in scientific expeditions. Under a contract with the Chilean government, he embarked on a 3 1/2-year expedition to build a registry of the country’s natural resources. Later he agreed to write a political history of Chile. The success of this work, which he completed in 1841, earned him honorary citizenship. Returning to France, Gay published the first volume of his Atlas de la historia fisica y politica de Chile in 1842. By 1871, this monumental work had grown to 30 volumes, covering history (eight volumes), botany (eight volumes), zoology (eight volumes), agriculture (two volumes), historic documents (two volumes), and two volumes of maps and illustrations. Gay’s work earned him fame as a versatile scientist and a talented artist whose etchings captured images of native Indians, landscapes, popular characters, and previously unknown botanical species.
Title in Original Language
Atlas de la historia física y política de Chile [Láminas, Volumen 1]
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