The Pioneering Work of Maria Sibylla Merian: Metamorphosis

In 1705, Maria Sibylla Merian self- published Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium based on her explorations in Suriname in the late 1600s.  Merian, the first to graphically capture the process of metamorphosis, is considered the world’s first ecologist. She labeled the plants in her illustrations with Latin and Dutch names, but if a plant was unknown to her, she used indigenous terms. This work of 60 plates was originally offered as a subscription in colored and uncolored versions. The Lloyd Library owns one of approximately 70 extant copies extant.

Metaphamorphis was reprinted posthumously in 1730 as Over de Voortteeling en Wonderbaerlyke Veranderingen der Surinaamsche Insecten, with twelve additional plates created by her daughters, who had joined her on her travels.  Below are selections from each book. The last three images are from the 1730 edition.

Plate 1

Ananas
(Pineapple)

Plate 7

Amerikaamsche Kerschen
(American Cherries)

Plate 11

Pallisaden Boom
(Palisade Tree)

Plate 12

Banana

Plate 18

Guajaves
(Guava)

Plate 20

Gummi Gutta Boomen
(Gumbo Limbo)

Plate 22

Roode Lelien
(Red Lilies)

Plate 28

Citroenen
(Citrons)

Plate 45

Flos Pavonis
(Peacock Flower)

Plate 56

Water-Scorpioenen
(Water Scorpions and Hyacinth)

Frontispiece, 1730

Plate 72

Stag Beetle

Plate 69

Caiman

For high resolution images or to obtain reproduction rights, contact us.