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Merian's Legacy

Merian’s work remained popular after her death in January 1717. The Metamorphosis was reissued (with twelve additional plates based on Merian’s drawings) in 1719, 1726, 1730 and 1771. The publication could be found in libraries across Europe, and influenced many subsequent works of natural history. Her illustrations were used not only by scientists; they were also employed as models by designers of fabric and porcelain.

Merian’s legacy was profound. Well into the nineteenth century, the insects of Suriname and their life cycles were studied through her illustrations and her words. For many years, across Europe, the brilliant Achilles Morpho, the vibrant Idomeneus Giant Owl, the elegant Dido Longwing and a host of others were Maria Merian’s butterflies.