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Women Artists

The lives and works of creative women


Pomegranate and Menelaus Blue Morpho Butterfly


RCIN 921162

Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium©

In the second half of the eighteenth century, George III acquired a group of sumptuous hand-coloured prints on vellum depicting the metamorphosis, or changing life cycles, of Surinamese insects for his scientific library. These plates were a luxury set of the illustrations of an influential publication on the subject, the fruit of first-hand research by the entomologist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian.

Merian, with her daughter, travelled to Suriname in South America in 1699 for the purposes of scientific research, which was remarkable. The intellectual rigour and artistic skill exhibited in the resulting publication and its illustrations were the zenith of a life devoted to the study of the science of insect metamorphosis. Merian dedicated her publication ‘to all lovers and investigators of nature’.

    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.