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About the collections Theme of the exhibit Macrocosm Microcosm

The Microcosm:

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.

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Merian, Maria 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.

The Erucarum 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 (1730).

About the collections Theme of the exhibit Microcosm Macrocosm

Department of the History of Science
History of Science Collections