Maria Sybilla Merian
(1647 – 1717)
Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium
In June of 1699, the artist-naturalist Maria Sybilla Merian departed from Amsterdam, along with her daughter Dorothea Maria, on a arduous journey to the Dutch colony of Surinam on the northeastern coast of South America. There she would observe the insect world and the plants that inextricably connected to their life process. In 1705, two small editions were published, with 60 engraved plates, in Latin and Dutch. Financial success finally came, but too late. On the day Maria died, Tsar Peter the Great concluded a transaction with her to purchase a two-volume collection of unbound paintings, as well as her journal of studies, Studienbuch.
In all, three editions of Merian’s Metamorphosis were published. The later two include 12 additional plates. Examples of Metamorphosis in good condition with original color are extremely rare.
The Edition in the library at Kew Gardens is a first (1705) edition which was colored by Merian herself. Our edition faithfully replicates even the most subtle nuances of the oxidized whites and blues of the original eighteenth century color.
This set also includes in the collection the additional 12 plates engraved by her daughter and introduced in the second edition.
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