Books > Natural History > Rare antique colour plate book by M.S. Merian
"One of the finest of all flower books" (Handasyde Buchanan)
Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium. ... - Dissertation sur la Generation et les Transformations des Insectes de Surinam: Dans laquelle on traite des vers et des chenilles de Surinam, des Plantes, fleurs, & fruits dont ils vivent & dans lesquels on les a trouvez. On y parle aussi des crapaux, lezards, serpens, aragnees, & autres petits animaux du même païs, peints sur les lieux d'après nature, & depuis gravez avec beaucoup de soin. On y a joint Un Traité des changemens des Poissons en Grenouilles & des Grenouilles en poissons. Par Marie Sibille Merian. Den Haag, Pierre Gosse, 1726. Latin and French in double columns. 72 plates, engraved by Mulder and Sluyter. A few small wormholes at the end affecting 8 pages.
Histoire des insectes de l'Europe, Dessinée d'après nature & expliquée par Marie Sibille Merian: Où l'on traite de la Generation & des différentes Metamorphoses des Chenilles, Vers, Papillons, Mouches & autres Insectes; & des Plantes, des Fleurs & des Fruits dont ils se nourrissent, Traduite du Hollandois en François Par Jean Marret, Docteur en Medecine. Augmentée par le même d'une Description exacte des Plantes, dont il est parlé dans cette histoire; & des Explications de dix-huit nouvelles Planches, dessinées par la même Dame, & qui n'ont point encore paru. Amsterdam, J.F. Bernard, 1730. 184 plates on 47 sheets + 2 engraved vignettes. Four plates with some brown offsetting, wide margins.
Folio, (52 x 36 cm) Two works in 2 volumes in contemporary uniform calf bindings, gilt three-line borders, spine richly gilt with seven raised bands.
1: Hunt (Botanical Books), 467; Nissen (BBI), 1341; Landwehr (Coloured plates), 132; Buchanan, p.14-16; Pritzel, 6105
First French edition. A tall copy of "the most magnificent work on insects so far produced" (P. Dance, The Art of Natural History, London: 1989, p. 50). "Her portrayals of living insects and other animals were imbued with a charm, a minuteness of observation and an artistic sensibility that had not previously been seen in a natural history book". Merian's "artistic groupings of the insects amidst the tropical flora makes this book one of the most beautiful and unusual in the whole range of natural history" (Landwehr (Coloured plates), p.28). The Metamorphosis resulted from Merian's trip with her daughter Dorothea to Surinam in 1699. The two women spent two years studying and recording plants and insects, returning to Amsterdam with a series of finished drawings on vellum, sketches, and specimens, from which they continued to work. The first edition of their labours appeared in 1705 in Latin.
The same sixty copperplates as in the first edition (1705), additionally twelve full-page copperplates of which the last two were supplied by A. Seba.
2: Hunt (Botanical Books), 483; Nissen (BBI), 1342; Landwehr (Coloured plates), 137
First French edition. Originally this work was published as "Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung and sonderbare Blumennahrung" Nuremberg, 1679-83 in 4° with 100 plates. In 1730 it was issued for the first time as an augmented folio-edition with 184 engraved illustrations in French and Dutch, both printed in Amsterdam.
Maria S. Merian was the daughter of the successful German engraver-publisher Matthäus Merian and pupil of the artist Jacob Marrel. From early age she developed an interest in the metamorphosis of insects. After a separation from her husband, she and her two daughters moved in 1686 to the Netherlands. There she made the personal acquaintance of serious collectors, owners of natural historical cabinets ('Kunst- und Wunderkammer'). After having seen specimens of insects from Dutch Guyana, she wanted to study these insects in their natural environment. With the financial support from directors of the Dutch West Indian Company, she and her daughters sailed off to Surinam, where they stayed from 1699 until 1701. All of Merian's works were published and sold by herself, issued part by part, in small editions, each with a different title, in coloured and uncoloured versions, over an extended period of time.
Item number: 01375
Question about this map