Mobile menu

Suriname

Maria Sibylla Merian and her daughter Dorothea set sail for Suriname in June 1699. The voyage normally took around two months, and on arrival they took a house in the capital, Paramaribo. From here, Merian began her work, heading out into the surrounding forests with local guides in search of caterpillars to rear and study. Her first recorded observation took place in October 1699, and she continued her research until she was forced to return home due to ill health in June 1701.

Merian’s primary reason for visiting Suriname was to study insect metamorphosis, but she was also interested in the plants and animals she saw. She was critical of the concentration of European settlers on sugar production and, considered how other natural products from Suriname could be cultivated and used.

The watercolours of Suriname on display in this section are luxury versions of the plates from the Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, which Merian published in 1705.

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Branch of Banana with Bullseye Moth

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Pineapple with Cockroaches

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Ripe Pineapple with Dido Longwing Butterfly

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Grape Vine with Gaudy Sphinx Moth

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Papapya plant with Nymphidium butterfly

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Costus plant with Banana Stem Borer Moth

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Frangipani plant with Red Cracker Butterfly

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Peacock Flower with Carolina Sphinx Moth

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Cotton-Leaf Physicnut with Giant Sphinx Moth

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Shoreline Purslane and Suriname Toad

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Watermelon vine with Acharia moth