Branch of banana tree (Musa paradisiaca) with caterpillar and moth (Aotumeris liberia) c1701-5
- Yesterday, a new exhibition Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science opened at the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Center, (June 10—August 31, 2008) and is the first major exhibition of Merian's work in America. It arrives there following an exhibition in Holland.
- At the same time she features prominently in two exhibitions in London
- Amazing Rare Things at The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace; and
- Treasures of Botanical Art at the newly opened Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
What I love about her work is that her flowers are always surrounded by creepy crawlies and butterflies of various sorts. Having spent a long time photographing flowers in May with my new camera one of the things which immediately struck me as I got to the grips with the new macro was just how many of my photos featured insects as well as flowers - although insects aren't often always seen in botanical art.
Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science
This exhibition introduces Maria Sibylla Merian to American audiences and focuses on natural history illustration. Co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Museum Het Rembrandthuis, the exhibition travels to Los Angeles after its presentation in Amsterdam
It presents stunning depictions of plant and insect life - examples of which feature in this post.
You can see more examples of her work on the exhibition website and a linked slideshow (where you can zoom and move around the images) plus there is an audio facility which explains more about individual images and how she makes her images work.
There is also a very wide variety of what like extremely interesting events associated with the exhibition which are all listed on the website. One of these is a Gallery Course on Beetles, Birds, and Butterflies: The Art and Science of Drawing from Nature. I wish I was in California!
The exhibition coincides with the publication on 15th June of a new book and fully-illustrated catalogue Maria Sibylla Merian and Daughters: Women of Art and Science by Ella Reitsma. I've not seen a copy but the website site states that the author carefully distinguishes Merian's work from that of her two daughters, who collaborated extensively with their mother. This beautifully illustrated book includes newly discovered drawings and fresh biographical details.
South American false coral snake (Anilius scytale) c1705-10
The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London - 14 March - 28 September 2008
Merian's interest in all things entomological as well as botanical makes her an excellent fit for this exhibition which focuses on the art of natural history.
The 95 watercolours by Merian in the Royal Collection were bought in 1755 by George III, when Prince of Wales. Most of Merian’s watercolours displayed are de luxe versions (painted on vellum) of the plates of the Metamorphosis, together with some works produced independently of that publication.
The book associated with the exhibition has a significant chapter given over to Merian and her life and work written by Susan Owens, Assistant Curator of the Print Room at Windsor Castle. I have a copy and the reproduction of work in the book is excellent.
Merian in Treasures of Botanical Art
The Shirley Sherwood Galler of Botanical Art at Kew
A delightful work by Merian "Polyanthus, cowslips and primroses" also features prominently in both the exhibition and the book Treasures of Botanical Art. which I reviewed in April and is a recommended read. This book marks the inaugural exhibition of the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew, which opened on 19th April 2008 (I was there!). It has some 200 paintings and drawings from both the Kew archive and the Shirley Sherwood Collection of contemporary botanical art which are in the exhibition. Both exhibition and book provide an overview of the development of botanical art since the 1600s and highlight some of the premier artists and some of the treasures of botanical art in both collections.
Maria Sibylla Merian - Resources for Botanical Art LoversI've prepared a resource site in anticipation of this exhibition while researching historical botanical art last month. Maria Sibylla Merian - Resources for Botanical Art Lovers will be of interest to all botanical artists and all those who enjoy botanical art and natural history. It includes links to biographies and books about her life and work. Plus online galleries and exhibitions which display her work. I hope to continue to be able to develop it as interest in this fascinating lady and her work continues to increase.
I'm also planning to expand the series 'Resources for Botanical Art Lovers' to other great botanical artists - starting with a site dedicated to the history of botanical art which is currently in preparation.
I have a book review of Dover's Merian's Antique Botanical Prints CD-ROM and Book (Pictorial Archives) which I'll post later today. I'm now off to the Press Preview of the BP Portrait Prize - which is the post for tomorrow!