Maria Sibylla Merian and Natural History

Deutsche Bundesbank, Frankfurt am Main, Germany500 DM banknote
Maria Sibylla Merian portrait from 500DM banknote

Who was Maria Sibylla Merian?

Artist, scientist, mother, rule breaker extraordinaire...more than enough reasons to make me want to know more about this German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator who lived in the 1700s..  I plan to delve more deeply into her remarkable story in future posts, but for now, just a snapshot:

In 1699 the city of Amsterdam awarded Merian … a grant to travel to South America with her daughter Dorothea.[2] , making Merian perhaps the first person to “plan a journey rooted solely in science.”[3]  She published her major work, Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (de), in 1705.

Because of her careful observations and documentation of the metamorphosis of the butterfly, she is considered by David Attenborough[4] to be among the most significant contributors to the field of entomology.

Quote from

Wikipedia contributors, “Maria Sibylla Merian,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed Feb. 10, 2018)

  1. Sunnyside Classical Christian School page on Maria Sibylla Merian
  2. Sunnyside Classics on tumblr
Maria Sibylla Merian, The Blue Iris
Maria Sibylla Merian in 1679


Maria Sybilla Merian, Plate XVIII
By Maria Sibylla Merian – from Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, Plate XVIII., Public Domain,


Library at Sunnyside
For the best books about the life and work of Maria Sibylla Merian, go to the Library at Sunnyside


Addendum:  I am an Amazon affiliate and will receive a small fee for any books purchased when clicking through links on my websites.  Thanks!


Some of My Favorite Books About Maria Sibylla Merian

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  1. Etheridge, Kay (2011). “Maria Sibylla Merian and the metamorphosis of natural history” (PDF). Endeavour. 35 (1): 16–22. doi:10.1016/j.endeavour.2010.10.002. PMID 21126767.
  2. Sunnyside Classical Christian School page on Maria Sibylla Merian
  3. Concordia University’s excellent lesson plans for elementary school children Free lesson plans on Maria Sibylla Merian
  4. Maria Sibylla Merian. (2018, February 10).  In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 10:53, February 13, 2018, from
  5. Maria Sibylla Merian, A contribution to the 25th anniversary of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library, Web. Feb.14, 2018

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