Women as well
as men participated in the scientific enterprise. One of these women
was Maria Sybilla Merian (1647-1717), who described and painted
plants and insects.
Sibilla. Erucarum ortus, alimentum et paradoxa metamorphosis.
Amsterdam: Joannem Oosterwyk, 1717.
When she was
fifty-two years old, Merian and her daughter Johanna Helena left
Europe for South America. Here they painted and wrote about the
insects that they encountered. Upon returning, they traveled to
see the principal European specimen collections. With the financial
help of the City of Amsterdam, Merian collected funds for trips
to India and Surinam that resulted in an extensive study of the
flora and fauna of these areas--particularly the insects. In 1705
they published De generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum surinamensium.
The sketches and paintings done for this book, together with its
information on the flora and fauna of the areas studied, represented
a valuable resource for European naturalists.
ortus was published first in German with the title Der Raupen
wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumennahrung, part 1
(1679), part 2 (1683). This book was reissued in Dutch as Der
Rupsen Begin, Voedsel en wonderbaare Verandering, part 1 (1713),
part 2 (1714), part 3 (1717). In 1718, the above copy, the Erucarum
Ortus, was issued in Latin. A French text with eighteen extra
plates was issued in 1730, Histoire des Insectes de l'Europe