ANNA MARIA SIBYLLA MERIAN, THE LADY OF CATERPILLARS AND BUTTERFLIES

Posted on February 24, 2014 by Luisa Fazio

She was born in Frankfurt in 1647 where, when very young, was fascinated by the Bombix mori, the silkworm. She observed its metamorphosis from caterpillar to white moth. Anna Maria Sibylla Merian, naturalist and botanical artist, became famous in 1699 when she undertook a journey to the greenest country in South America, with an incredible biodiversity: Suriname. She studied caterpillars, pupae, butterflies, flowers, plants, eggs, lizards, snakes in their natural habitat, recording every detail on pictorial boards designed with great natural refinement, delicacy and precision. Her graphic works were obtained by a combination of ┬áburin and dry point work and then colored. In 1705, her illustrated tables were published in magnificent and valuable books on the metamorphosis of insects of Suriname. Someone wrote: “I was about 8 years old when, in a storage room of our country house, among dusty objects of all kinds, I found some wonderful books purchased at the time when my ground mother had been interested in the natural sciences … I carried down in my arms extraordinarily and unique volumes. The writer was a fan of ┬álepidopteran insects. He was Vladimir Nabokov. The attractive volumes were those of Anna Maria Sibylla Merian. What a lucky inheritance!