The Hague: 1726. Print. Maria Sibylla Merian's careful drawing of the Emperor Moth, caterpillar and chrysalis. Published in her masterwork (The Insects of Surinam).
Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717) was a pioneering entomologist and the first naturalist to record the process of metamorphosis. At the age of 13, she grew and closely followed the life cycle of silk worms. Her father was the noted publisher and illustrator Matthaus Merian, and she was trained by her stepfather, Jacob Marrel. She published her first book of natural illustrations in 1675. In 1679, Merian published the first volume of a two-volume series on caterpillars; the second volume followed in 1683. Each volume contained 50 plates that she engraved and etched, describing the life cycles and documenting the process of metamorphosis and the plant hosts of 186 European insect species. Most remarkably, in 1699, she traveled with her daughter to Dutch Guiana to study the tropical insects of the region. The culmination of that two year trek resulted to her publishing "Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium" in 1705. Because of her careful observations and documentation of the metamorphosis of the butterfly, Merian is considered by David Attenborough to be among the more significant contributors to the field of entomology. Until her careful, detailed work, it had been thought that insects were "born of mud" by spontaneous generation.
Impression mark 12 7/x 9 1/2", with margins 20 x 13 3/4". Printed on laid paper with large watermark with small column, flowers, scrolls and the letter "W". P. Hayter Sculp. In very good original condition.
References: Wikipedia & Wilfred Blunt, The Art of Botanical Illustration an Illustrated History, 1994, page 127. Very good condition. Item #27138