When the New York Times reported on the legendary botanist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian earlier this spring, I knew I had to attend the conference in Amsterdam. With three days of scholarship from all over the globe, the conference showcased the intersection of both the scientific and art world that Merian brilliantly straddled with equal aplomb.
As Joanna Klein writes in the New York Times, A Pioneering Woman of Science Re‑Emerges After 300 Years: Maria Sibylla Merian, like many European women of the 17th century, stayed busy managing a household and rearing children. But on top of that, Merian, a German-born woman who lived in the Netherlands, also managed a successful career as an artist, botanist, naturalist and entomologist.
In spite of the terrible dangers she had to experience herself (in 1699 at the age of 52, Merian sailed with her daughter nearly 5,000 miles from the Netherlands to South America to study insects in the jungles of what is now known as Suriname,) Merian showed a 'tremendous resiliency of character' to quote Henrietta McBurney.
During the golden age of Exploration, natural history was a valuable tool for discovery. When Merian returned from the 1699 journey, there were at least 70 collectors in Amsterdam who were eager to share her findings, each with their own cabinet of curiosities that shared their respective riches in London and other leading European cities.
Whether by her watercolors or descriptive text, Merian understood the accuracy could only be accomplished by returning with samples, sometimes relying on the text written in the field but often times collecting specimens for doing accurate watercolor illustrations.
Last month, “Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium” was published. It contains 60 illustrations and original descriptions, along with stories about Merian’s life and updated scientific descriptions.
We are so thrilled to be offering a collection of 5 limited edition prints by Merian this summer at our J. Pocker Gallery (full preview of these 5 prints below). For some behind the scenes travel snaps from the conference in Amsterdam you can follow our Instagram (@jpocker).
If you're interested in purchasing one of limited edition Merian prints, please contact Alison White for more details: firstname.lastname@example.org.