Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer

Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer

In 1660, at the age of thirteen, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) began her study of butterfly metamorphosis—years before any other scientist published an accurate description of the process. Later, Merian and her daughter ventured thousands of miles from their home in the Netherlands to the rainforests of South America seeking new and amazing insects to observe and illust...

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Title:Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer
Author:Sarah B. Pomeroy
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Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer Reviews

  • Nostalgia Reader

    A gorgeous book about a woman who was way ahead of her time in the fields of entomology and scientific art/illustrations.

    I had heard about Maria Merian a couple of times before I saw this book–most notably, I remember her work being featured in

    –but didn’t really know her full backstory. She’s someone who deserves so much more recognition, especially since many of her observations of the metamorphosis and life cycle of insects were at least a century or so ahead of her time. Of c

    A gorgeous book about a woman who was way ahead of her time in the fields of entomology and scientific art/illustrations.

    I had heard about Maria Merian a couple of times before I saw this book–most notably, I remember her work being featured in

    –but didn’t really know her full backstory. She’s someone who deserves so much more recognition, especially since many of her observations of the metamorphosis and life cycle of insects were at least a century or so ahead of her time. Of course, like most other female scientists, her observations were never really taken at scientific value and not believed until male scientists finally discovered or proved the same thing. However, a book like this brings her life into excellent focus and highlights the importance of her contributions.

    Being fortunate to have been raised in a family of artists, Maria was able to learn the trade and start incorporating her other love, observing bugs and plants, into her artwork. She recorded detailed observations of the insects she observed or raised, in addition to illustrating them, and even travelled to Suriname to observe tropical species first-hand. Her illustrations didn’t just show a static insect at one stage of life, but rather illustrated the entire lifecycle of an insect, from egg to adult, in one plate. She not only proved that caterpillars hatched from eggs, but also illustrated the relationshisps between insects and the plants they ate, proving how important certain plants were to the insects and how they played into the food chain.

    This is billed as a young adult reference book, and while it certainly is written as such, I think it’s a perfect introduction to Maria for readers of any age. The amount of information contained within is quite substantial, and it includes so many plates of Maria’s works that it would also be a lovely coffee table book.

    Very highly recommended for natural history, art, and/or bug lovers of all ages!

    Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy to review!

    (Cross posted on

    .)

  • Storyheart

    I enjoyed this gorgeously illustrated and clearly written biography of the 17th century scientist, artist and explorer Maria Sibylla Merian, one of the greatest botanical artists of all time.

    Aimed at a young adult audience, this book places her life and scientific work in historical context that will interest budding naturalists and artists of any age and is an excellent inspiration for young women who are interested in pursuing a career in natural sciences. Recommended.

    I received a copy of thi

    I enjoyed this gorgeously illustrated and clearly written biography of the 17th century scientist, artist and explorer Maria Sibylla Merian, one of the greatest botanical artists of all time.

    Aimed at a young adult audience, this book places her life and scientific work in historical context that will interest budding naturalists and artists of any age and is an excellent inspiration for young women who are interested in pursuing a career in natural sciences. Recommended.

    I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

  • Joanne

    First - a disclosure, I won this book from Goodreads in return for an honest review.

    When I took the book out of the packaging my first thought was "Wow!" Just the cover is gorgeous. The hardbound book, covered in Maria's drawings of various plants and animals, provides a hint of the gorgeous work inside.

    Maria Sibylla Merian was born in the 17th century in Holland. She developed an interest in nature and was an extremely talented artist. She didn't just draw what she saw, she studied it, she lea

    First - a disclosure, I won this book from Goodreads in return for an honest review.

    When I took the book out of the packaging my first thought was "Wow!" Just the cover is gorgeous. The hardbound book, covered in Maria's drawings of various plants and animals, provides a hint of the gorgeous work inside.

    Maria Sibylla Merian was born in the 17th century in Holland. She developed an interest in nature and was an extremely talented artist. She didn't just draw what she saw, she studied it, she learned about what she was seeing. One part of the book talks about how she took some frogs eggs, buried them in the sand, made sure it was kept wet and then observed over time the transformation of these eggs into small frogs. Each step was carefully sketched out so that visually one could see the transformation. Until that time scientists didn't understand how a frog could live both on land and in water. Now thanks to her they had the valuable information they would need.

    Her detailed sketches showed nature at its best and its worst. She didn't shy away from showing plants as they actually were - if they had a brown leaf she noted it. Plant life was shown with various insects around it - caterpillars, butterflies, flies, snakes, bugs. A huge variety of life was sketched and colored. Her artwork wasn't just for show, it was to educate.

    Merian would travel to South America with her daughter, observing nature and making detailed notes and sketches of what she saw. Her notes and sketches would help scientists for centuries. Today there are over a dozen species of animals and plants that have been named in her honor.

    This extraordinary woman would have a huge impact on science, was an independent thinker and curious enough about the world to observe and report on it in detail - both through the written word and beautiful artwork.

    It is a shame that she is not well known. Until now I had never heard of this remarkable woman. She deserves to have her story told. Especially in such a gorgeous book.

    Highly recommended.

  • Julie

    Fantastic, short, wonderfully illustrated book about an amazing woman! Maria Sibylla Merian was an artist, author, entomologist, and adventurer - a woman very much ahead of her time (16-1700s!). She persistently pursued her scientific and artistic career, traveled and published books, all while raising her two daughters alone as well, who also both became artists. Such a fascinating woman!

  • Laura (Book Scrounger)

    I had never heard of Maria Sibylla Merian before, so this was a very interesting intoduction to her life and work. Merian was born in Germany in 1647, and spent her later life in Amsterdam, Holland. This book chronicles her artistic development as well as her scientific exploration. Her specialty was insects -- she would observe all the insects she could find and take notes on their life cycles. She also painted detailed, scientifically accurate pictures of many many insects and plants.

    Around 17

    I had never heard of Maria Sibylla Merian before, so this was a very interesting intoduction to her life and work. Merian was born in Germany in 1647, and spent her later life in Amsterdam, Holland. This book chronicles her artistic development as well as her scientific exploration. Her specialty was insects -- she would observe all the insects she could find and take notes on their life cycles. She also painted detailed, scientifically accurate pictures of many many insects and plants.

    Around 1700, she and her daughter made a scientific voyage to Surinam to study, paint, and collect specimens of native plants and animals, something that was unheard of for a woman in those days -- as the book says, she was a woman "far ahead of her time." She and her daughters published several volumes of paintings, some of which ended up in the collections of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    This book includes many of her paintings (with detailed captions explaining the plants and animals in each one) as well as an overview of Maria Sibylla Merian's legacy at the end -- she's had several organisms named in her honor since her death. The book also includes a glossary and bibliography.

    It is inspiring to read about the ways that scientific curiosity and exploration have compelled people (mostly men in those days) to observe, explore, and carefully record the world around them, even long before modern scientific framework or conveniences. It's especially inspiring to read about a woman doing the same thing even when it went against the social expectations of the day.

    (Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

  • Cassandra

    This book is beautiful! The biography was very interesting also, but the images were what really made me like this book so very much! I love that this was written for ages 10+. I plan on having my 11-year-old daughter take a look at this book. I have a feeling we will be buying the physical book. The images will surely be even more beautiful in book format rather than on my computer. I was not familiar with the name Maria Sibylla Merian until now, but I will be researching her and looking to lea

    This book is beautiful! The biography was very interesting also, but the images were what really made me like this book so very much! I love that this was written for ages 10+. I plan on having my 11-year-old daughter take a look at this book. I have a feeling we will be buying the physical book. The images will surely be even more beautiful in book format rather than on my computer. I was not familiar with the name Maria Sibylla Merian until now, but I will be researching her and looking to learn more about her and her life

  • Marzie

    Maria Sibylla Merian was a 17th Century German entomologist and artist who had profound effects on the idea of studying insects directly, or

    , including through their metamorphoses. The daughter and stepdaughter of artists in Frankfurt, Merian took an interest in insects from an early age, studying them and breeding silkworms at as early an age as thirteen. She is considered by modern naturalist Sir David Attenborough to be one of the most important researchers in the field of entomology.

    Maria Sibylla Merian was a 17th Century German entomologist and artist who had profound effects on the idea of studying insects directly, or

    , including through their metamorphoses. The daughter and stepdaughter of artists in Frankfurt, Merian took an interest in insects from an early age, studying them and breeding silkworms at as early an age as thirteen. She is considered by modern naturalist Sir David Attenborough to be one of the most important researchers in the field of entomology. Many insects and spiders have been named after her, in honor of her contribution to the field.

    This book, which appears to target middle-grade students, offers many examples of Merian's exquisite drawings from nature and biographical information about her rather amazing life, which included traveling with her daughter to Dutch Suriname in the late 1700's in order to study New World insects and spiders. This looks to be a good platform for encouraging interest in budding entomologists, as it touches on the actual scientific exploration process that Merian, unlike many in her day, espoused. (Some of the other artists' contrasting images offered were perhaps less than convincing, however.)

    This is a slim volume at 98 pages in the review galley but appears to be a worthwhile addition to any middle grade or high school library.

  • Becky B

    A biography of artist Maria Sibylla Merian, born in 1647, showing how she developed a scientific study of insects and other creatures centuries ahead of her time that provided groundbreaking knowledge. Her careful observations connected the multiple stages in the lives of many butterflies and moths, and her illustrations and studies in Surinam brought the Americas to Europe in vibrant color. The book is full of reproductions of Maria Sibylla's amazing illustrations.

    This book is incredibly well-r

    A biography of artist Maria Sibylla Merian, born in 1647, showing how she developed a scientific study of insects and other creatures centuries ahead of her time that provided groundbreaking knowledge. Her careful observations connected the multiple stages in the lives of many butterflies and moths, and her illustrations and studies in Surinam brought the Americas to Europe in vibrant color. The book is full of reproductions of Maria Sibylla's amazing illustrations.

    This book is incredibly well-researched and is related in a more scholarly style for middle grade and young adult students. I love that they were able to use Maria Sibylla's actual illustrations throughout the book. That really helps to bring the woman to life. I had never heard of her before, but she made some major contributions to science and scientific art in a time when women really didn't have much of a place in the world. She was also rather adventurous for her time, venturing to Surinam from Europe and back to observe the creatures there. It is amazing to realize that she pre-dated Linneaus and that he actually used her works to classify several organisms. In all, a fantastic biography of a woman who made some major contributions to science over 300 years ago!

    No content issues.

  • Cat

    Amazing woman. This is an insightful book about Maria Sibylla Merian. She was a great artist/illustrator; her paintings aided Carl Linnaeus in classifying creatures he could not go to see himself. She traveled and painted. Very independent woman. I'd never heard of her before finding this book and think it should be used not only in art and science classes, but in classroom to encourage students, particularly girls. Great book.

    I received a Kindle ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a fair review.

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