Artefact of the month - May 2008
Dissertation sur la génération et les transformations des insectes de Surinam...
par Marie Sibille Merian. La Haye : Cosse, 1726.
Parallel texts Latin-French. French translation by Jean Rousset de Missy
These three images are from one of the most intriguing and beautiful books in ZSL Library.
Marie Sibille Merian (1647-1717) was a remarkable woman, passionately interested in insects and their transformations. She was born in Germany but later moved to Holland.
She was inspired by the exotic butterflies sent back from the Dutch colonies. At the age of fifty two in 1699 she travelled to Surinam (Dutch Guiana) to make a pictorial record of the metamorphosis of South American insects. As a result of her three years in Surinam she produced this fascinating book. The images in this lavishly illustrated book depict a wide variety of tropical insects, their life-cycles and associated food plants. Many of the insects were not previously known to science and most are depicted life-size. She also showed metamorphosis of insects to be a scientific fact. Her artistic groupings of insects and other animals amongst the tropical flora makes this one of the most beautiful and unusual natural history books.
Reproductions of these images can be purchased from ZSL Print Store
Some of Merian's original paintings can be viewed at the 'Amazing Rare Things' - Exhibition
at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace from 14 March - 28 September 2008.