(German, active Netherlands, 1647–1717)
Watercolor with touches of opaque watercolor over indications in black chalk or graphite on vellum
Sheet: 29 x 37.2 cm (11 7/16 x 14 5/8 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2019.9
The artist who drew this life cycle of the European pink-spotted hawk moth from egg through caterpillar, pupa, and adult insect reared caterpillars in her home for 10 years before writing and illustrating a definitive text on metamorphosis.
The artist Maria Sibylla Merian was one of the most important entomologists of the 17th century. Her studies of caterpillars, which she reared herself, contributed to knowledge of the life cycles of numerous species. Trained as a miniature painter by her stepfather, she combined her artistic talent with her scientific interest, creating images such as this one, which portrays the life cycle of the European pink-spotted hawk moth as well as its favorite food, the morning glory. Merian added additional caterpillar species to the sheet to create a pleasing and astonishingly detailed composition.
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