MERIAN, MARIA SIBYLLA.
Erucarum ortus, alimentum et paradoxa metamorphosis...
Amsterdam, J. Oosterwyk, (1718). 3 parts bound in one. 4to (197 x 155mm). With hand-coloured engraved allegorical frontispiece by J. Schijnvoet, hand-coloured engraved portrait of Maria Sibilla Merian, 3 other hand-coloured frontispieces of floral wreaths to each part, one hand-coloured engraved vignette and 150 beautifully hand-coloured engraved plates. Contemporary Dutch calf, richly gilt ornamented spine with gilt lettering in 6 compartments (head of spine shaved).
An extraordinarily fine coloured copy of the first Latin edition of Maria Sibylla Merian's 'Der Rupsen Begin', published one year after the third volume of the Dutch language edition. The work was first published in German 'Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung'. Of this German edition only 2 parts were published. The frontispiece, the portrait of Merian and the 3 frontispieces of floral wreaths have the margins enlarged at the time of printing and binding. The edges of these leaves have the same faint red colour as the other leaves. Copies of this edition have come on the market without the allegorical frontispiece by Schijnvoet, and the 3 frontispieces of floral wreath and most copies do not have the portrait of Merian (see for example Christie's sale 4 June 2008). In our opinion the present copy is an early issue of the work, with the allegorical frontispiece, portrait of Merian and the 3 frontispieces of floral wreath printed on smaller paper, which were made to size when the book was bound. The binding is strictly contemporary. As the colouring of the present copy is exceptionally fine it is not unlikely it was done by Dorothea, the daughter of Sibylla Merian. Dorothea, after the death of her mother in January 1717 edited the third part of the 'Der Rupsen Begin'. On 28 September of the same year she sold all the copper plates, printed as well as already coloured engravings of the Suriname insects and 'Der Rupsen Begin' to the Amsterdam publisher Oosterwijk. The next year Dorothea left for St Petersburg to meet up with her husband Georg Gsell. Both had been invited by Czar Peter the Great to take care of the art collections. Dorothea had closely worked together with her mother for many years and her art work is as refined and exquisite as her mother's. The Latin edition was published posthumously as Sibylla Merian died the previous year. Maria Sibylla Merian was one of the most remarkable naturalists of the 17th and 18th century, daughter of the renowned publisher Matthäus Merian of Frankfurt. Already at the very early age of thirteen she began studying insects. She became the most celebrated woman artist of her time and many of her drawings were acquired by Czar Peter the Great. "The work of these years consisted of both scientific and artistic activity: Merian collected and raised insects, fed them with their host plants, observed them, described and drew their metamorphoses from egg to caterpillar and from pupa to butterfly imago. She then compiled her individual observations and studies in pictorial compositions" (Maria Sibylla Merian, Artist and Naturalist 1647-1717, p. 103). In 1699 Sibylla Merian embarked upon the dangerous journey from Amsterdam to Surinam in the company of her daughter Dorothea. The result of this was her famous 'Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium' published in Amsterdam 1705. Portrait of Merian with 2 brown spots at lower margin, title-page with 2 faint stamps as well as verso of 3 leaves with faint stamp. Nissen BBI, 1342; Pfeiffer, Die Werke Maria Sibylla Merian, Nr. A7; M.S. Merian artist and naturalist no. 155.
Item nr. 9592
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