Maria Sibylla Merian

Born in Frankfurt in 1647 to a family of artisans, Maria Sibylla Merian learned the printmaking trade from a young age. As she matured, Merian developed a great interest in insects, which she collected, studied, and drew. At the age of 52, Merian left her home in Amsterdam and traveled with her daughter Dorothea Maria to the Dutch colony of Surinam on the northeastern coast of South America. There, she spent two years observing the indigenous plants and insects, studying and painting them from life. This endeavor resulted in one of the most significant natural history folios of the 18th century, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, the culmination of her career as an artist and naturalist. Merian is one of the first entomologist to discover and document insect metamorphosis.