MARIA SIBYLLA MERIAN: ARTIST, SCIENTIST, ADVENTURER, by Sarah B. Pomeroy and Jeyaraney Kathirithamby, Getty Publications and Abrams, Feb. 13, 2018, Hardcover, $21.95 (ages 10 and up)
A few days ago I mentioned how beautiful Helen Ahpornsiri’s Drawn From Nature is. The same can be said of Sarah B. Pomeroy and Jeyaraney Kathirithamby’s Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer, which is geared toward upper middle-readers.
In 1660, at the age of thirteen, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) began her study of butterfly metamorphosis—years before any other scientist published an accurate description of the process. Later, Merian and her daughter ventured thousands of miles from their home in the Netherlands to the rainforests of South America seeking new and amazing insects to observe and illustrate.
Years after her death, Merian’s accurate and beautiful illustrations were used by scientists, including Carl Linnaeus, to classify species, and today her prints and paintings are prized by museums around the world. More than a dozen species of plants and animals are named after Merian. —synopsis provided by Getty Publications
Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer is exactly the type of book I would have loved as a 10-year-old, and I love it even more as an adult. It’s the sort of thing adults will get for their children but secretly read themselves. Even my daughter, who is only 4, is drawn to the cover, and enjoys flipping through the pages — her favorite page is the Nettle with Red Admiral Butterfly, Ichneumon Wasp, and Chalcid Wasp from the book’s epilogue.
Maria Sibylla’s life was fascinating. For a woman to study science during that time period was unusual as was becoming a professional artist. She broke the mold and did so with amazing strength.
Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist, Scientist, Adventurer is a comfortable read, with lots of images and captions to break up the main text. And the main text itself is easily accessible. Sprinkled throughout there are also quotations from Merian’s own study book, and sidebars on history, art and science.
I look forward to reading this with my own budding botanist when she gets older, and for now, we’ll keep drinking in the gorgeous images.
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