Maria Sibylla Merian and Natural History

Maria Sibylla Meran

Who was Maria Sibylla Merian?

Artist, scientist, mother, rule breaker extraordinaire...the life of Maria Sibylla Merian is filled with reasons to make me curious 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 themetamorphosisof the butterfly, she is considered by David Attenborough[4] to be among the most significant contributors to the field ofentomology.

Quote from

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

Video: Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam, Maria Sibylla Merian – The Cottonian Collection

Click for enlarged view:

See Also:

Sunnyside Classical Christian School page on Maria Sibylla Merian

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

My Favorite Books About Maria Sibylla Merian

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Amazon
Buy at Amazon
Buy at Amazon


  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

Image credit facing page:

Maria Sibylla Merian, a German-born woman living in the Netherlands, had a successful career as an artist, botanist, naturalist and entomologist. Credit Jacob Houbraken, after Georg Gsell, via Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium, Amsterdam 1705, The Hague, National Library of the Netherlands

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