A Woman with a Persistent Question: Maria Sibylla Merian and Insect Metamorphosis

synkroniciti

from Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium by Maria Sibylla Merian from Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium by Maria Sibylla Merian

The questions asked in youth can lead us on journeys that last a lifetime. Sometimes persistence is rewarded with answers.

In the late 17th century there was a common belief that insects were beasts of the devil, spontaneously generated from mud. Few scholars understood the life cycle of the butterfly and insects were certainly not proper subject matter for study, especially for a young lady. Fortunately, curiosity is a powerful thing.

Maria Sibylla Merian Maria Sibylla Merian

Maria Sibylla Merian was a scientist, botanical artist, engraver and illustrator, famous for her contributions to entomology, the study of insects. Born in 1647 in Frankfurt, her father was the influential Swiss engraver and publisher Matthäus Merian the Elder, who, unfortunately, died before Maria reached the age of four. Her mother later married the painter Jacob Marrel, who taught his stepdaughter how to draw and paint and encouraged her passion…

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