April 24, 2011

Thoroughly Modern Women: Maria Sibylla Merian

Maria Sibylla Merian isn’t a household name and that’s a shame. She was a talented artist whose keen eye and skilled hand revolutionized botany and zoology. Maria got married at just eighteen but a few years later ditched her husband and supported her aging mother and two daughters with her art. She published an illustrated book. When she was in her fifties, she packed her bags and went for a lengthy expedition in Suriman jungle, to observe tropical insects in their habitat. She published more books. Oh yes, she was also born in 1647, time we hardly associate with spunky and accomplished women of the science and arts.

Here a few of her lovely, genteel plates

Pretty little pomegranates (1665)

Plantain plants documenting metamorphosis of a moth (1679)

Creepy-crawlies (1719) 
Photos: The J. Paul Getty Museum

Caiman goes after a snake. Photo: The British Museum

A thoroughly fiction girl myself, I was completely engrossed with Maria Sibylla Merian’s biography, Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis by Kim Todd

Here is more information about Maria Sibylla Merian from the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the J. Paul Getty Museum.


  1. One of the things I love about Google Doodles is that many of the people they honor, like today's honoree, are not well-known to the general public. I've really enjoyed getting to know her work through today's Doodle and the links provided.

  2. I was so excited to see her featured on Google! There are so many remarkable women artists who are not known as well as their male counterparts! Thanks for your comment.



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