This charming, hand-colored entomology engraving is from Maria Sibylla Merian’s Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung and sonderbare Blumennahrung. This is from the first Dutch edition published in Amsteram by J. F. Bernard in 1730.

Der Raupen… was considered “the most magnificent work on insects so far produced” (P. Dance, The Art of Natural History, London: 1989, p. 50). “Her portrayals of living insects and other animals were imbued with a charm, a minuteness of observation and an artistic sensibility that had not previously been seen in a natural history book”. Merian’s “artistic groupings of the insects amidst the tropical flora makes this book one of the most beautiful and unusual in the whole range of natural history” (Landwehr Dutch Books with Coloured Plates, p.28).

Maria Sibylla Merian was a naturalist and artist. Her contributions to entomology were nevery truly acknowledged in her lifetime, but she is considered a groundbreaker in the fields of botany and zoology. She made detailed observations of live specimens, which was a departure from previous studies that used preserved specimens. She focused great detail on the processes of metamorphosis which had not been studied so comprehensively before her work.