The different life cycle stages of the Tetrio Sphinx butterfly near the branches, leaves and flowers of the Musk Okra. A highly desirable plate from a monumental work.
Engraving on hand laid (verge) paper. Watermark: Strasbourg lily and monogram WR below (Wendelin Riehel).
Sheet size: 37,5 x 50 cm. Image size: 24,5 x 35 cm.
From the celebrated work ‘Metamorphasibus Insectorum Surinamensium.’, first published in 1705. Further ed include 1719 and 1726 with additions added by M.S. Merian eldest daughter Joanna. We do not know the exact ed. of this plate.
Made by ‘Pieter Sluyter’ after ‘Maria Sibylla Merian’. Pieter Sluyter / Sluiter (Dutch; active in Amsterdam ca. 1692-1711) worked as a professional engraver, etcher and draughtsman. Maria Sibylla Merian (Frankfurt, 1647-Amsterdam, 1717) was a naturalist and scientist who studied plants and insects. She also made detailed paintings of the subjects she studied. Her biological father was the engraver and publisher Matthaus Merian, and when he died, Merian’s mother married Jacob Marrel. It was Marrel who encouraged young Maria Sibylla to start painting, and at the age of 13 she had painted her first insects and plants. Her study of insects, and especially the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly, was much celebrated in high society. It contested the notion that insects were “born from mud” in spontaneous generation. Merian studied specimens (partly in her own captivity), and described the life cycles of 186 insect species. Although she was correct in her notion of caterpillar metamorphosis, and several scientists in her time already adhered to this idea, the contemporary scientific language was still Latin. So, although her work was widely read and praised by the gentry as it was written in the vernacular, scientists took little notice of Merian’s hard work. She wrote a similar work on the insects of Surinam during her stay there, from 1699 to 1701. Shortly before her death, Tsar Peter the Great saw (and greatly admired) her work in Amsterdam. This resulted in the acquisition of a number of Merian’s works into the collections of the Tsar. Merian’s works are admired and collected until today for their artistic merit. Especially since the end of the 20th century interest in her work has been revived.
Good, given age. Hand colouring is of later date. Bottom margin a bit narrow and irregular from binding. Small tear in top middle and lower paper edge, not effecting image. Light soiling and creasing. Some dampstaining in right margin. General age-related toning and/or occasional minor defects from handling. Please study scan carefully.
(PCOGV) Lade 3 @PCO