A Butterfly Journey
September 13, 2015 1:41 PM   Subscribe

A 17th-Century Woman Artist’s Butterfly Journey Despite her long career, her influence on contemporary natural knowledge, her vivid descriptions of distant Suriname, and her intrepid spirit, when she died in 1717 the city of Amsterdam’s register of deaths described her simply as a woman “without means.”
posted by Michele in California (9 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I love those illustrations. Particularly the ones with all the holes in the leaves where the caterpillars were eating them.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:33 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Gorgeous illustrations.
posted by chance at 3:38 PM on September 13, 2015

Some utterly amazing illustrations! Crazy that butterflies were thought to be diabolical!
How could people think such lovely creatures were bad? Medieval- early modern Europe was weirder than I thought!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:29 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh hey, it's the woman from the children's book Summer Birds, which I also read about in some long MeFi thread on kids books.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:30 PM on September 13, 2015

Merian had an interesting family background: her father Matthäus was a notable printmaker and publisher, as was her maternal grandfather, Johann Theodor de Bry. Her book Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium is browsable in its entirety (albeit via a slightly clunky interface), courtesy of the Linda Hall Library. Thanks for the post, Michele in California: the new book about her is one for the wishlist!
posted by misteraitch at 1:57 AM on September 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

There have been so many women involved in all branches of science, we just don't know about them. Here's another fine example.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:16 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by jebs at 8:07 AM on September 14, 2015

These pictures are fabulous, and Merian's accomplishments sound amazing. Thank you for posting, Michele in California, and thanks for the extra links, deludingmyself and misteraitch. I think I'll buy a copy of Summer Birds for my nieces, and Butterfly Journey for my grandmother-in-law (and/or myself).
posted by daisyk at 10:06 AM on September 14, 2015

butterflies might seem like an innocuous research subject for a woman, although in the 17th century universities were still exclusively male

I realise that a 52 year old woman actually doing this with her 22 year old daughter in the 17th century is maybe a tiny bit easier than a 38 year old guy pretending to do this with a 5 year old son in the 21st, but damn... I can't even imagine the courage required to make this work out. Thanks for posting.
posted by langtonsant at 11:02 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older "Who wants to go to Vancouver?"   |   Sous-vide cooking allows you to cook better than... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments