De Europischen insecten
Maria Sibylla Merian. De Europischen insecten. Amsterdam, J. F. Bernard, 1730.
Merian also studied insects closer to home, as in this study which covers the insects of Europe. It was originally published as Der raupen wunderbare verwandelung und sonderbare blumennahrung between 1679 and 1683. As part of her process, Merian collected insects so that she could observe them as they grew and changed.
Merian’s goal was not to create a systematic classification of insects, or strict anatomical descriptions, but to illustrate the wonders of metamorphoses. Her religious affiliation was at first Calvinist and then, for approximately six years of her life, she was a Labadist. Merian undertook her work in a spirit of intense devotion to the wonders of creation and the transience of life. Merian’s artistic production can best be understood when taken in the context of her own words:
“I am moved to present God’s miracles … Thus do not seek to praise and honour me for this work, but rather God, glorifying him as the creator of even the smallest and most insignificant of these worms.”
(Martin Kemp, Visualizations: the nature book of art and science. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000, p. 47)
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