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Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

Grape Vine with Gaudy Sphinx Moth 1702-03

RCIN 921190

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Merian was trained in the art of flower painting, but is best known for the Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (1705), a monumental study of the insects of the Dutch colony of Surinam in South America. In this depiction of the gaudy sphinx moth, Merian chose the vine as the backdrop for her portrayal, as this is the plant on which the female of the species lays its eggs. The vine’s tendrils, stretched out across every part of the page, mirror the lengthy proboscis of the moth.