Sunday, April 2, 2017

Born today:Maria Sibylla Merian, Max Ernst and National Poetry Month

Plum & Calliteara Pudibunda. Wikipedia
Maria Sibylla Merian (2 April 1647 – 13 January 1717) was a German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator, a descendant of the Frankfurt branch of the Swiss Merian family, founders of one of Europe's largest publishing houses in the 17th century.

Historian Natalie Zemon Davis wrote about her (and Glikl bas Judah Leib and Marie de l’Incarnation,) in “Women on the Margins,” Maria Sibylla Merian, a German painter and naturalist, produced an innovative work on tropical insects based on lore she gathered from the Carib, Arawak, and African women of Suriname. Along the way she abandoned her husband to join a radical Protestant sect in the Netherlands, (Spark notes on the book:

Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus) and a False Coral Snake (Anilius scytale). Wikipedia
 Merian received her artistic training from her stepfather, Jacob Marrel, a student of the still life painter Georg Flegel. She remained in Frankfurt until 1670, relocating subsequently to Nuremberg, the small village of Wieuwerd in the Dutch Republic (1685), where she stayed in a Labadist community till 1691, and Amsterdam.

Merian published her first book of natural illustrations, titled Neues Blumenbuch, in 1675 at age 28. In 1699, following eight years of painting and studying, and on the encouragement of Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck, the then-governor of the Dutch colony of Surinam, the city of Amsterdam awarded Merian a grant to travel to South America with her daughter Dorothea.

Parrot tulip, auriculas, moth
 Her trip, designed as a scientific expedition makes Merian perhaps the first person to "plan a journey rooted solely in science."[After two years there, malaria forced her to return to Europe. She then proceeded to publish her major work, Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (de), in 1705, for which she became famous. 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. She was a leading entomologist of her time and she discovered many new facts about insect life through her studies.

Happy Birthday to Max Ernst, pioneer of Dada and Surrealism born today in 1891:

Explore "The Antipope" and his other works on view in #GuggVisionaries.

National Poetry Month:

1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

I was not aware of Maria Sibylla Merian. Her nature illustrations are superb. I find it kind of nice that a woman's work was so recognized in the time period in which she lived. You don't find too many women from that time who made a name for themselves. She definitely deserved it! As to Max Ernst, I knew of him and had seen a piece or two, but had not seen that very *different* piece you posted. Definitely surreal!