Maria Sibylla Merian

Maria Sibylla Merian was a painter, botanist and entomologist. She was born in Frankfurt and was taught painting and engraving by her stepfather, the painter and engraver Jacob Marrel, whose speciality was traditional Dutch flower pictures.

Her life was marked by her great talent as a painter of flowers and her interest in insects. Fifty of Merian’s drawings of flowers and insects are kept at Rosenborg; presumably they came from her first book on garden flowers. Her second book concentrates on the stages of development of butterflies and the plants they live off. It was an important scientific work, being the first time a writer compared insects with their host plants.

In 1699 Merian travelled to Guyana, in South America, where she listed and painted the local insects and flowers. The works of Maria Sibylla Merian are characterized by great technical skill and sharp observational abilities. Flowers and insects are precisely represented and her pictures are beautifully composed.