Enfilade

Exhibition | The Treasury Collection: Works by Maria Sibylla Merian

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on May 18, 2017

Now on view at the Cromhouthuis (with thanks to Hélène Bremer for noting it and the related symposium). . .

The Treasury Collection: Works by Maria Sibylla Merian
Cromhouthuis, Amsterdam, 31 March — 18 June 2017

This year is the 300th anniversary of the death of naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717). On view at the Cromhouthuis, The Treasury Collection: Works by Maria Sibylla Merian features her colourful paintings and illustrations of caterpillars, butterflies, and other insects. This valuable and fragile collection is part of the Artis Library Collection from the University of Amsterdam.

Maria Sibylla Merian was born in Frankfurt in 1647 and moved to Amsterdam in 1691. Merian was an independent woman with modern ideas that she carried over into her research as a naturalist. For example, she felt it was important to see the creatures she was researching in their natural environment. This conviction lay at the basis of her journey to Surinam where she worked on her most well-known book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. The focus of this richly illustrated work, just as in her book Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung, is the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly. The exhibition illustrates beautifully how Merian worked on the interface between art and science.

The exhibition was designed by Florian Seyd and Ueli Signer from The Wunderkammer. They took their inspiration from the antique books and original prints in the collection of the Artis Library (UvA) and combined this with specimens and objects from nature. British writer Redmond O’Hanlon made a special audio guide for the exhibition, available for free at the entrance.

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the death of Merian, the Maria Sibylla Merian Society is holding an international symposium on her work, 7–9 June. The exhibition—a collaboration between Artis Library, the University of Amsterdam, and the Amsterdam Museum—is part of the symposium programme.

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