Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) is another of our favorite naturalist/scientific illustrators. From childhood she was fascinated with insects and the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies. Trained as a painter, she beautifully depicted her observations about the life-cycle of insects. Her illustrations show not just the insects’ transformation, but the important role specific plants have in sustaining the animal during the various stages of development.
The images above are from her most important work, Metamorphosis insectorum surinamensium (1705)which she created after receiving a grant from the city of Amsterdam to travel to the then Dutch colony of Suriname to study insects.