Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Pomegranate and Menelaus Blue Morpho Butterfly

Maria Sibylla Merian, 1702 — 1703
The Royal Collection Trust, Windsor Castle, London

The natural scientist Maria Sybilla Merian sailed to Suriname in 1699 for an extensive study trip, together with her daughter Dorothea. They stayed there until 1701, studying and drawing the life cycles of insects. This work culminated in the book Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (“The Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname”), published in 1705. The book was immediately well received in Europe and Merian became highly regarded as an entomologist and as an artist, thanks to her peerless artistic illustrations. Unlike her predecessors, who depicted the different stages of animals and plants in a row, she combined different insects and plants in artistic compositions and drew them meticulously and in vivid colors. Her fame as an artist and scientist has endured to this day. Her delicate drawings remain a feast for the eye, inspiring scholars and the general public alike.

Hanna Klarenbeek, Curator of Paintings, Prints and Drawings, Paleis Het Loo, Apeldoorn

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Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium 1705

Facsimile published in 2016


Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science

Exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum (2008)