Maria Sibylla Merian Prints 1705

While our images are electronically watermarked, the antique prints themselves are not.

Papaya ME64 $2350
Each print measures approximately 14 inches by 20 inches.

We are pleased to offer a selection of Maria Sibylla Merian prints from Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, published in 1705. The finely detailed & richly hand colored copper engravings portray butterflies & insects along with the fruits and flowers on which they lived. These extremely rare prints are considered some the most desirable in the entire world of print collection.

Maria Sibylla Merian was born in 1647 in Frankfurt to a well-known Swiss engraver, Mattheus Merian. After her father's death, when Maria was an infant, her mother soon married Jacob Marrell, the Dutch flower painter. Early on, Maria displayed a talent for drawing, particularly insects, & her stepfather interceded with her mother to allow her to pursue her interests. It was radical step in a time when insects were considered unclean. Maria became fascinated with the metamorphosis of butterflies & all stages of their transitions & habitats. She studied with Abraham Mignon, her father's pupil and later Johann Graff, whom she subsequently married.

In 1679 she published the European Insects, colored by her own hand & that of her daughter Dorothea. In 1685 she converted to Labadism, founded by the French priest Jean de La Badie, and moved with her two daughters to live in their community at Borsch Castle in Holland. Her husband followed her there, but after 17 years the marriage was over & Maria resumed her maiden name. 

By chance, in the castle was a superb collection of tropical insects from Surinam, brought back by the H V Sommerdych, the owner of the castle & the Governor of the Dutch colony of Surinam.

Incredibly, it was the inspiration for Maria & her daughter Dorothea to set sail for Surinam, in South America, known later as French & Dutch Guiana. 

In the two years there, Maria & her daughter gathered the material & made the drawings for the magnificent Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, published in 1705, with 60 plates. Most of the plates were engraved by Jon Slayter & Joseph Mulder. Health problems mandated her return to Europe, but her daughter Johanna married a Dutch trader in Surinam and was able to complete more drawings & collect specimens for the second edition of Metamorphosis, with 12 additional plates.

It is a breathtaking accomplishment in any age to embark on an extended sojourn in a third world country as a single mother & artist aged 52, accompanied by a child. That Maria not only accomplished this journey, but produced a masterpiece which has never been equaled in botanical illustration defies the imagination & is an inspiration and a gift to all humankind.

Sadly Maria suffered a stroke in 1711 and died a pauper in Amsterdam on January 13th, 1717. 

Each print is in excellent condition, measuring approximately 13 inches wide by 19 3/4 inches long. These prints are all from the exceptionally rare first edition. The paper is heavy & chain-lined, and light creamy in color with a few fox marks & beautiful hand coloring. They have been recently hand coloured in England by one of the few remaining professional colorists whose specialty is botanicals and using an original copy of the work for authenticity. There is no descriptive text. Please review the pictures carefully as they are quite accurate.

We accept credit cards, PayPal, checks, and money orders. Washington state residents pay Washington state sales tax. Shipping for this item is $12.95 for domestic and $25.00 for international.  Items can be combined to save on postage. Our environment is smoke free. We pack professionally using only new materials. All items are beautifully wrapped and suitable for sending directly as gifts. You may return any item within 7 days if not satisfied. To order, you may call us, fill out the order form or email.


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