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A beautifully produced collection of Maria Merian's natural history drawings

Johanna Herolt (1668–1723)

Still life with fruit and Blue-Backed Manakin c.1705?

Watercolour and bodycolour with gum arabic on vellum | 31.1 x 41.9 cm (whole object) | RCIN 921239

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A watercolour of Cherries, Pear, Fig, Peaches and Plums in a bowl with a Blue-Backed Manakin (Charoxiphia pareola), ants and a fly. This watercolour combines the late seventeenth-century tradition of still-life painting with Merian’s interest in exotic species. The blue and white china bowl is typical of a Dutch still life of this period while the Blue-Backed Manakin is a native of Suriname (this bird is probably a specimen which had been brought back to Amsterdam where there was a lively market in exotic species). Another version of this composition is in a private collection (Christie's New York, 25 January 2007, lot 52).