This essay reconstructs the transition from literary to natural anthropology, which took place when man was placed among Primates (Linné, 1735). It then considers the transition to evolutionary anthropology, which occurred when man was first said to descend from another Primate species (Lamarck, 1802). It then analyses the period in which the issue of his origin was broached in terms of the most recent common ancestor (De Filippi, 1864; Cane-strini, 1866; Darwin, 1871) and, after recalling the major debates that ensued (between monogenists and polygenists, on the existence of "races"), it considers the period in which "the natural history of man" was first placed within an institutional framework (foundation of professional societies, publication of manuals, etc.). It focuses on the works of Paolo Mantegazza, who held the first European chair in Anthropology (Florence, 1869), in particular on his quest for a "comprehensive" anthropology.
Keywords: Evolutionary anthropology, Darwin, Mantegazza, Natural anthropology, Natural history of man.