Maria Sibylla Merian was a naturalist and scientific illustrator. Her detailed observations and documentation of the metamorphosis of the butterfly make her a seminal, if not well known, figure in the field of entomology. Her most famous work, the Metamorphasibus, from which our plates come, was the product of two years of research in the then-Dutch colony of Surinam, from 1699 to 1701, and was first published in 1705 in Amsterdam, with a number of subsequent editions issued over the next few years, with additions by Merian's eldest daughter, Joanna, based on her mother's drawings.
The Metamorphasibus was immediately popular, and remains a highly celebrated work. The scientific research and illustration of Merian and her daughters were the focus of a major exhibition at the Getty Center in 2008. Examples of her work continue to be highly prized by collectors.