Saturday 25 April 2020
Maria Sibylla Merian's engraving, “Plate XVII: Wonderbare Rupsen”, c.1680
Maria Sibylla Merian (aka Maria Sibylla Graff) (1647–1717)
“Plate XVII: Wonderbare Rupsen” (aka “Vermes Miraculosi”; “Miraculous Caterpillars, Larvae and a Moth”), 1679–1683, published in 1730 by J F Bernard in Amsterdam, as plate 17 (XVII) 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]) in 1730 (see an online copy of the 1730 edition with the publication details at archive.org https://archive.org/details/Europischeninse00Meri/page/XVI-XIX/mode/2up).
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 anniversary of her birth” (“Archives of Natural History”, 26 ) 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) (https://pure.uva.nl/ws/files/956970/80552_327018.pdf).
Engraving on laid paper, watermarked with the 17th/18th century “Strasburg Lily” (see W.A. Churchill 1965, no. 401), with watercolour hand-colouring (as published in 1730).
Size: (sheet) 25.1 x 16.3 cm; (plate) 14.8 x 11.1 cm.
Inscribed on plate: (upper right corner) “XVII”
Condition: near faultless and well-preserved impression (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, significant stains or foxing, but there is pale discolouration around the platemark where the sheet has been mounted by an earlier collector). The hand-colouring executed at the time of publication is applied with skill and care.
I am selling this rare engraving by the first woman artist-naturalist to publish her findings that caterpillars—described in Merian’s day one of the "beasts of the devil"—were not "’born of mud’ by spontaneous generation” (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Sibylla_Merian), but that they were a stage in the metamorphoses of the butterfly/moth, for the total cost of AU$313 (currently US$200.27/EUR184.97/GBP161.92 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 (email@example.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.
This print has been sold