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Maria Merian's Butterflies
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In 1699, the German artist and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian set sail for Suriname, in South America. There she would spend two years studying the animals and plants which she encountered, aiming to explore the life-cycle of insects (the only partially understood). Those studies led to the publication of the Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (The Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname), a luxury volume, which brought the wonders of Suriname to Europe. Maria Merian's Butterflies tells Merian's story through her works in the Royal Collection, acquired by George III. Many are luxury versions of the plates of the Metamorphosis, partially printed and partially hand painted onto vellum by the artist herself.
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About the Author

Kate Heard is senior curator of prints and drawings, Royal Collection Trust, and deputy editor of the Journal of the History of Collections.

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