MERIAN, MARIA SIBYLLA.
Over de Voortteeling en Wonderbaerlyke Veranderingen Der Surinaamsche Insecten, Waar in Surinaamsche Rupsen en Wormen, met alle derzelver Veranderingen, naar het leeven afgebeelt en beschreven Waar in ook wonderbare Padden, Hagedissen, Slangen, Spinnen en andere zeltzame Gediertens worden vertoont en beschreven. Alles in Amerika
Amsterdam, By Jean Frederic Bernard, 1730. Folio (515 x 355mm). pp. (8), 51, (1), with engraved title vignette and 72 splendid contemporary hand-coloured engraved plates (Together with:) MERIAN, MARIA SIBYLLA. De Europische Insecten. Naauwkeurig onderzogt, na 't leven geschildert, en in print gebragt ... Met een korte Beschryving, waar in door haar gehandelt word van der Rupsen begin, Voedzel en wonderbare Verandering ... Amsterdam, J.F. Bernard, 1730. Folio. pp. (4), 84, with engraved title-vignette, 184 splendid contemporary hand-coloured engraved plates printed on 47 leaves and a hand-coloured engraving on page 84. Contemporary Dutch calf, richly gilt decorated spine in 10 compartments, old spine laid down with some repair at head and foot, corners with old repair.
(I). Third Dutch edition and the second enlarged edition adding 12 plates to the 60 of the 1705 edition. One of the finest coloured copies we have seen of this important work. Maria Sybilla, daughter of the German engraver and publisher Matthias Merian, devoted herself to the study of European insects and their metamorphoses. As a result of the wealth of tropical varieties being brought back by the Dutch West Indies Company, she decided to visit the Dutch colony of Surinam herself to study and paint the insect life there. She sailed with her daughter Dorothea on June 1699 from Amsterdam, and remained in Surinam until 1701. Her work, first published in 1705 with sixty plates, 'gave an unprecedented glimpse of the teeming insect life of tropical South America, with gorgeous butterflies flying around luxuriant flowering or fruiting plants and with large many-coloured caterpillars crawling over the leaves. [The plates] have earned Maria Merian an honoured place in the history of tropical entomology as also in botanical illustration' (W.T. Stearn, introduction to The wondrous transformation of caterpillars 1978). The work opens with an imposing frontispiece which shows the artist studying specimens presented to her by six putti. In the background a spacious arch opens onto a tropical landscape. The foreword is full of fascinating information, the author describing in detail her venturesome and costly voyage and the methods she employed when painting. Each insect was carefully examined, often with the aid of a microscope, and depicted together with the plant, flower or fruit on which it normally fed. Each written entry begins with useful botanical information, thus providing us with indications as to how the artist composed her pictures. 'Merian's sensibility to the minutest aspects of the natural world, and her rich visual vocabulary (the fruit of a lifetime of study and practice), is reflected in every detail of the work. It contains a myriad of exotic species, most of them shown in the various phases of their life-cycle... 'Merian's vision was certainly not one of an idyllic tropical paradise: in not a few of her paintings she has depicted next to the insect its natural predator. As Luigi Figuier colourfully expressed it: "Every one of her paintings depicts a drama in miniature"... The implacable laws of nature do not spare the splendid tropical flowers depicted by the artist, who often saw the fresh green leaves and fleshy, vividly coloured petals as nourishment offered up to ravening insects' (Lucia Tongiorgi-Tomasi, An Oak Spring flora pp 382-3). Botanical notes on the plants depicted were supplied by Caspar Commelin. For this edition 12 further plates with accompanying text were added; the first ten by her daughter Johanna after making her own voyage to Surinam, and using materials left at Maria's death, and the last two by the great collector Albert Seba. (II). First Dutch edition. This work in its earliest form was published as Merian's 'Der Rupsen Begin, Voedzel en Wonderbaare Verandering' (1713-1717), which was issued in 3 parts in 4to. Merian's 'De Europische Insecten', includes her earlier published 'Blumenbuch', of which the first edition of 1675-1680 was sold a few years ago at auction for Pounds 565,250 (including premium). Of the second edition renamed 'Neues Blumenbuch' only 6 copies have survived. Frédéric Bernard, the publisher of the 'De Europische Insecten ...', had purchased the copper plates of the 'Der Rupsen Begin' and the 'Blumenbuch' from Johannes Oosterwyk, and believed that the plates for the 'Blumenbuch' had not previously been published, which suggests that Merian's earlier work had already been forgotten. Maria Sibylla Merian was one of the first to observe and describe metamorphoses of European insects, portraying, describing and publishing them with painstaking precision. Her 'Der Rupsen Begin' is a pioneer study. It is dedicated to 'explorers of nature, art-painters and garden lovers'. Maria Sibylla Merian was one of the most remarkable naturalists of the 17th and 18th century. Already at the early age of thirteen she began studying insects. She became the most celebrated woman artist of her time and many of her drawings were acquired by Tsar Peter the Great. "The work of these years consisted of both scientific and artistic activity: Merian collected and raised insects, fed them with their host plants, observed them, described and drew their metamorphoses from egg to caterpillar and from pupa to butterfly imago. She then compiled her individual observations and studies in pictorial compositions" (Maria Sibylla Merian, Artist and Naturalist 1647-1717, p. 103). Provenance: Old bookplate of E. Grendel. (I) Pfeiffer B6; Hunt 484; Nissen BBI, 1341. (II) Pfeiffer A9; Nissen BBI,1342.
Item nr. 9912
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