Mini Biography: Maria Sibylla Merian

Birth: April 2, 1647
Death: Jan. 13, 1717
Nationality: German
Born in Frankfort, Merian’s father was an engraver and although he died when she was only 3 her mother married again – this time to the flower and still life painter, Jacob Marrel. Throughout her childhood Merian received art lessons and possessed a burning interest in insects. At 18 she married and had a child but continued painting, as well as making embroidery designs and teaching drawing to young ladies. Merian separated from her husband after the birth of a second daughter and the couple eventually divorced. She published her first illustrated book on insect metamorphosis in 1679, 3 collections of engravings featuring plants between the years 1675-1680, and a book detailing South American flora and fauna observed during her two-year long scientific tour of Suriname in 1705. In 1717, a couple of years after suffering a stroke, Merian died penniless in Amsterdam and her youngest daughter published Merian’s 6th book posthumously.
Some of her notable work includes: Spiders, ants and hummingbird on a branch of a guava (1701-1705), Wasserskorpion, Frösche, Kaulquappen und Wasserhyazinthe (1705) and Spectacled Caiman and a False Coral Snake which is pictured below. The header image is her portrait as it appears on a Deutsche Mark.
Merian, Maria Sibylla. Common or spectacled caiman and South American false coral snake (c.1705-10), Royal Collection.  
There are a lot of fun facts about Merian. She has a South American lizard named after her, she is pictured on the 500 Deutsche Mark (DM) with the reverse side of the DM showing a dandelion, inchworm and butterfly, and in 2013 she was a Google Doodle on the anniversary of her birth. To read more about her or to see more examples of her illustrations and engravings visit:
Botanical Art and Artists 
The J. Paul Getty Museum
National Museum of Women in the Arts