Merian, Maria Sibylla

Merian, Maria Sibylla

(märē`ä zĭbü`lä mā`rēän), 1647–1717, Swiss naturalist and painter of insects and flowers; daughter of Matthäus MerianMerian, Matthäus
, the elder, 1593–1650, Swiss engraver and draftsman. In Frankfurt am Main from c.1623, he produced, with help from assistants, numerous engravings of battles and hunts, and topographic prints of European towns.
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, the elder. Her first book on insects, with plates she engraved and colored, was published in 1699. The same year she went to Dutch Guiana to study tropical insects, and her work on that subject appeared in 1705. Her remarkable painting of a Guianan bird-eating spider was ridiculed as a flight of female fancy until 1863 when an English naturalist observed a similar spider in the Amazon forest. Merian's careful research in natural history, combined with her exquisite pictorial studies, mostly in watercolor, earned her considerable esteem. The British Museum has two volumes of her drawings.

Bibliography

See K. Todd, Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis (2007); Maria Sibylla Merian and Daughters: Women of Art and Science (2008), catalog ed. by E. Reitsma.