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Half height banner for Maria Merian exhibition, showing a butterfly
This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

Merian's daughters

Merian’s daughters Johanna (1668–1723) and Dorothea (1678–1743) were both talented artists who, like their mother, specialised in depictions of natural history. A number of the watercolours acquired by George III (r.1760–1820) as the work of Maria Sibylla Merian are probably by Johanna or Dorothea. Although they were trained by their mother, Johanna and Dorothea were less exact in their depictions of animals and plants and probably produced their watercolours for art collectors rather than natural historians.

Johanna did not accompany her mother on the Suriname trip, but later travelled to the country with her husband, Jakob Herolt. From there she sent back exotic specimens for her mother to sell to European collectors. Two of the works here are attributed to her on the basis of signed works in other collections.

Dorothea travelled to Suriname with her mother in 1699. She later cared for her as Merian became increasingly frail. After Merian’s death in 1717, Dorothea and her husband, the artist Georg Gsell (1673–1740), travelled to St Petersburg to work at the court of Peter the Great (r.1682–1725), taking Merian’s scientific notes and drawings with them. Although Dorothea is known to have undertaken projects for the Tsar, no watercolours by her can now be identified.

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