Maria Sibylla Merian “Plate I (Mulberry Leaves and Fruit)” From Histoire des Insectes de L’Europe. Amsterdam: Jean Frederic Bernard, 1730. Approx. 6 x 4 5/8. Engraving. Lovely hand color. Very good condition.
An original antique print by Maria Sibylla Marian. As the step-granddaughter of J.T. de Bry and the daughter of the well-known engraver Matthaus Merian the elder, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) was well suited to become one of the most important natural history artists. Known not only as an accomplished artist, but as a respected entomologist, Merian was the first to illustrate the full life cycle of many species of butterflies and moths. Even more extraordinary, at the age of fifty-one, Merian divorced her husband and took her daughter Dorothea to the Dutch colony of Surinam in South America. After two years of observation she published her important work, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. This print is from a less well known study of European insects she produced a number of years later. Though done at a smaller size than the insects of Surinam, and published by her daughter Dorothea posthumously, these images have the same wonderful attention to detail and charming composition, giving them an strong visual appeal. Although Merian occasionally put aesthetic needs above scientific, the prints offer a fascinating study of botany and entomology.