|Maria Sibylla Merian Self-portrait,
|Butterflies, 1771, Maria Sibylla Merian
Maria Sibylla was born in Frankfurt Am Main (now in Germany) in 1647. Her father was an artist and publisher. He died when she was three. Her mother remarried another artist, a painter, also an engraver and art dealer from who young Maria learned all there was to know about her stepfather's various arts and interests. When she was sixteen, she married an artist, one of her stepfather's students. They moved to Nuremberg where she built her skills painting on parchment and linen, as well as engraving and embroidering while teaching a number of female art students. It was during this period, doing all this, while at the same time raising a family and keeping a home, that she also began producing detailed copper plates of European flowers in the highly detailed, seventeenth century Dutch style. Between 1675 and 1677, working with her stepfather, she published them in two elegantly illustrated books on the subject. But it was her third publishing effort that earned her a memorable place in both art and science. Entitled Wonderful Transformation, it was published in two volumes, each containing some fifty copperplate engravings cataloging 186 different European moths, butterflies, and insects. Going beyond this, along with each one, she also illustrated on the same page each stage of each insect's metamorphosis along with the plant upon which the caterpillar fed. This was one lady not afraid of, or repulsed by, creepy crawly things. And they were all drawn from life.
|Insects of Surinam, 1700, Maria Sibylla Merian
|Maria Sibylla Merian's bug book in German, 1719
|Some of Maria Sibylla Merian favorites.