Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Adventurous Spirit: Maria Sibylla Merian

[Maria Sibylla Merian, circa 1700–1710, Watercolor on vellum]

Somehow not limited by the usual 17th century constraints, artist Maria Sibylla Merian achieved remarkable feats for her era. She was born into a middle-class German family of publishers and artists, and had a childhood fascination with butterflies. This passion led Merian to South America, where she spent two years studying, observing, and making watercolors for her masterwork The Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname.

[Maria Sibylla Merian, circa 1665, Watercolor on vellum]

Currently on view at The Getty is an exhibition, Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science, that highlights her accomplishments in art, science and business. I think some of you textile designers might find her work inspiring -- sort of a precursor to Josef Frank.

[Maria Sibylla Merian, circa 1705, Watercolor over partial transfer print on vellum in The Insects of Suriname, The Royal Collection © 2008 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II]

[Maria Sibylla Merian, circa 1680, Hand-colored engraving in The New Book of Flowers, Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London]

Josef Frank pillow available through Beautiful Pillows.


Yoli said...

Thanks for the education. Truly exquisite.

Style Court said...

Yoli -- thanks for stopping by. Her work is beautiful :)

Karin said...

Oh my gosh, how I love her drawings! I won a little book on ebay last year (for $10 or so!) that was published in 1935. Its called Kleine Buch der Tropenwunder and contains maybe 40 full page drawings of bugs and butterflies in their native habitat. I had no idea what I was bidding on, just looking for some frameable botanicals, so Holy Cow, was I ever blown away. Her work is beautiful. The colors are amazing. I wish I could see the exhibit you mentioned! (P.S. I still haven't had the heart to take the book apart to frame the pages. It's just such a treasure)

Great post!!

Style Court said...


Sounds like you made a great purchase! Thanks for sharing the title with us. I'll have to look it up.

kelleyp said...

great references! love to view the similarities between the two.

Style Court said...

thanks kelley p. always love to hear from you :)

Kellogg Collection said...

I love old beautiful prints and was unaware of this great artist. Great pictures and keep up us entertained.