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Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), A Surinam caiman fighting a South American false coral snake
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Maria Sibylla Merian spent much of her life in Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Amsterdam specializing in painting plants, animals and insects on vellum. In 1699 she travelled to Surinam, a Dutch colony in South America, where she made extensive notes and sketches, and collected dried plants and animals preserved in alcohol. She returned to Amsterdam in 1701, where in 1705 she published her work on Surinamese insects, the first scientific work produced about the colony.

Merian was an unconventional figure for her time, and few women could have achieved in art and science what she did. For her period, her work is scientifically accurate and she is considered to be one of the founders of entomology, the study of insects.

This watercolour comes from a set of albums by Merian owned by Sir Hans Sloane, whose collections formed the basis for the British Museum.

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), A Surinam caiman fighting a South American false coral snake

Surinam or Amsterdam,
c. AD 1699-1705
Ht. 30,6 cm.

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