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Half height banner for Maria Merian exhibition, showing a butterfly
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Jacobus Houbraken (1698 – 1780), Maria Sibylla Merian, 1717, Engraving. RCIN 670216©

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) is one of the most celebrated natural scientists of her age. She travelled a great distance in pursuit of her research. Marriage and piety took her from her native Frankfurt, via Nuremberg, to join a religious community at Waltha Castle in the north east of the Netherlands. In 1691 she left Waltha Castle and moved to the vibrant city of Amsterdam, a centre of scientific research into the natural world.

Merian’s encounter with collections of exotic specimens in Europe gave her a desire to study the life cycle of the insects of South America and in 1699 she travelled with her younger daughter to Suriname, a Dutch colony. The research Merian undertook in Suriname, published in 1705, would make her name both as an artist and as a naturalist. She brought the wonder of South American wildlife to Europe and changed the course of natural history illustration.

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.