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Where others sought separation, Maria Sibylla Merian saw connection. By Andrea Wulf.
If this article has piqued your interest in Maria Sibylla Merian, there's a great book about her art science and life by Kim Todd called Chrysalis and the Secrets of Metamorphosis. It includes some of her drawings and watercolors and even a Merian family portrait by Matthus Merian the Younger which was painted in 1641 -- just 6 years before Sibylla was born. In addition to loving Sibylla, I loved Kim Todd's writing style which brought to life Merian's world.
I'll transcribe a description of alterations to her (Merian's) book following her death which diluted the quality of her work as for a time the memory of this extraordinary woman receded. From p. 254 "Oosternyk added twelve new plates to the original sixty claiming to have found ten among her effects [...] Some are obviously hers [...] But toward the end of the book the quality disintegrates. The style is no longer recognizable and some other artist must have stepped in. The final plate looks as though its author must have sampled rain-forest hallucinogens as well as cassava and pineapple"
"One hundred and fifty years before Charles Darwin wrote his Origin of Species, Merian knew nature well enough to depict it as a constant struggle for survival. "
I would never have suspected those drawings were done over 300 years ago.