Great Women Artists: Maria Sibylla Merian

by sarahkburke

Plates 18, 20, and 29. All images are from Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium. Amsterdam: J. Oosterwijk, 1719.

Maria Sibylla Merian, Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum surinamensium. Amstelædami: J. Oosterwijk, 1719. [HOLLIS]

The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library & Rare Book Collection is a participant in a project, organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, to celebrate works by great women artists in Washington, DC museums.  In 2012, the National Museum of Women in the Arts celebrates its 25th Anniversary with special events, exhibitions, programs and online projects.  As part of this year-long celebration, NMWA developed Great Washington Museums Celebrate Great Women Artists, a collaborative city-wide exhibit of works by women artists at area museums.

The artist that the Research Library Rare Book Collection selected for this project is the naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), and specifically her 1719 publication Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (first published in 1705).  She was truly an extraordinary artist and naturalist, and we think she provides good company for the other female artists featured in this collaborative project.

Please take a look at our online exhibit to explore some forerunners and contemporaries of Merian.  In addition to images from the 1719 Metamorphosis, we present  images from other books by Merian, books that influenced Merian, and books that treated the interactions between plants and insects.

Plates 52, 56, and 64.