Gallery of prints for sale

Thursday 22 August 2019

Maria Sibylla Merian's engraving, “Plate VII: Prunier fleuri”, 1679

Maria Sibylla Merian (aka Maria Sibylla Graff) (1647–1717)

“Plate VII: Prunier fleuri” (Flowering Plum, caterpillar and butterfly), 1679–1683, published as plate 7 in Merian’s “De europische Insecten” (aka “Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung, und sonderbare Blumennahrung” [The Wondrous Transformation of Caterpillars and their Strange Diet of Flowers]) editions from 1679/83 until 1730. The page format of this impression suggests that his impression is from the earlier edition as in the final 1730 edition the prints are clustered four to a page and the title text is erased (see an online copy of the 1730 edition with the publication details at

Engraving on laid paper, coloured by hand in watercolour (presumably at the time of publication) with full margins as published and backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 23.4 x 16.8 cm; (plate) 14.8 x 11 cm.
Inscribed on plate: (upper right corner) “VII”; (lower centre) “Prunier fleuri.”
Lifetime impression (based on the format of the page which suggests that it is from one of the first editions).

Regarding the edition size, Florence F.J.M. Pieters & Diny Winthagen (1999) in “Maria Sibylla Merian, naturalist and artist (1647-1717): a commemoration on the occasion of the 350th anniversity of her birth” (“Archives of Natural History”, 26 [1]) advise:
“… her books were very rare, editions probably not exceeding 100 copies, and consequently very expensive for scientists — especially the coloured copies: the subscription prices of a coloured versus an uncoloured copy of her book on Surinam insects were 45 and 15 Dutch guilders” (p. 10). Note that “the pay of a Dutch ocean-going sailor came to 9 guilders a month during the entire seventeenth and eighteenth centuries” (ibid). []).

Condition: crisp, near faultless and very well preserved impression (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, significant stains or foxing), laid upon an archival support sheet of millennium quality washi paper.

I am selling this rare engraving by the first woman artist-naturalist to publish her findings that catapillars—described in Merian’s day one of the "beasts of the devil"—were not "’born of mud’ by spontaneous generation” (see, but that they were a stage in the metamorphoses of the butterfly, for the total cost of AU$257 (currently US$173.87/EUR156.92/GBP143.06 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this lifetime impression of one of the first coloured botanical studies ever published—mindful that the colours were chosen for their accuracy and that the artist recorded the plants from which pigments could be derived at a time when the guild system disallowed women from painting in oils (see Wikipedia about this artist)—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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