A fine pair of exceptional quality early 18th century hand-coloured engravings of plants and insects from Dissertatio de Generatione et Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium, Amsterdam, 1705, plates 22 and 46.
Engraved by Pieter Sluyter after Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717).
Signed in the plate lower left “P. Sluyter Sculp”.
Why we like them
In The Art of Botanical Illustration, the author Wilfred Blunt writes, “Maria Sibylla Merian Merian…, though primarily an entomologist, was certainly one of the finest botanical artists of the period immediately following…1680. A cosmopolitan—she was born in Germany of a Swiss father and a Dutch mother—her art derived almost entirely from the great flower painters of seventeenth-century Holland.” (p.127)
Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium is referred to in Nature into Art, by Handasyde Buchanan (1979), as “one of the finest of all flower books” (p. 41).
Joseph Mulder, Pieter Sluyter, and D. Stopendael worked as engravers from the original drawings by Merian, who oversaw all aspects of the publication of her works during her lifetime. The Metamorphosis is Merian’s most famous work, resulting from her journey with her daughter Dorothea to Surinam in 1699. The two women spent two years studying and recording insects and plants, returning to Amsterdam with a series of finished drawings on vellum, sketches and specimens, from which they continued to work. The work first appeared simultaneously in Latin and Dutch in 1705 with further editions in 1719 and 1726.