Maria Sibylla Merian

by tobelikeafeatherby

Dear Ellie,


Merian’s legacy (she was also on the old Deutsche marks.)

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) is renowned for her contributions to the field of Entomology. I am intrigued by Merian’s ‘documentation of the metamorphosis of the butterfly.’ (an early Damien Hearst?)  Zoology aside, the reason I want to draw your attention to Merian, is for her work as a botanical artist, which must be admired appropriately enough at this time of year. (She is also German.) Merian was taught and inspired to draw by her stepfather, Jacob Marrel, a still life painter, associated with the Dutch Golden Age.

Opnamedatum: 2010-02-09

Tulips, painted by Merian’s stepfather and teacher, Jacob Marrel.

The admiration Merian’s engravings were attracting in the late 17th century meant she was rewarded by the city of Amsterdam the opportunity to travel in South America. The first woman to receive such a privilege.  In 1699 Merian set sale for Suriname.  Here, Merian continued to sketch local insects and plants, and even discovered a whole range of previously unknown animals and plants. I am told Merian’s ‘passion for insects changed Science.’ I have no doubt. If only Science still looked so wonderful and enticing.


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Love, Sarah. xxx