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MERIAN, Maria Sibylla (1647-1717). Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. Ofte Verandering der Surinaamsche Insecten. Amsterdam: the author and Gerard Valck, [1705].
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MERIAN, Maria Sibylla (1647-1717). Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. Ofte Verandering der Surinaamsche Insecten. Amsterdam: the author and Gerard Valck, [1705].

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MERIAN, Maria Sibylla (1647-1717). Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. Ofte Verandering der Surinaamsche Insecten. Amsterdam: the author and Gerard Valck, [1705].

2° (515 x 350mm). 60 engraved plates by Joseph Mulder, Pieter Sluyter, and D. Stopendael after Maria Sibylla Merian, with descriptive letterpress text in Dutch, EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED with 12 engraved plates after Johanna Merian from the first expanded edition Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium, Amsterdam: Jo. Oosterwyk, 1719, with descriptive letterpress text in Latin, ALL WITH FINE CONTEMPORARY HAND-COLOURING. (Plate 69 fractionally frayed at fore-edge, occasional very light scattered spotting, but generally a fresh, clean copy.) Slightly later calf, gilt spine with raised bands, red morocco gilt lettering piece, marbled edges (extremities lightly rubbed, expert repairs to head- and tailcaps, the whole refurbished). Provenance: bookseller's cost code and note dated 26 May 1776 to rear pastedown.

A VERY FINE LARGE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION OF MARIA SIBYLLA MERIAN'S GREATEST WORK. Merian oversaw all aspects of the publication of her works during her lifetime, from the original drawing, engraving the plate, to colouring the image by hand. The Metamorphosis is justifiably Merian's most famous work, resulting from her journey with her daughter Dorothea to Surinam in 1699. The two women spent two years studying and recording insects and plants, returning to Amsterdam with a series of finished drawings on vellum, sketches and specimens, from which they continued to work. First published in 1705, it was expanded in 1719 with the addition of 12 plates after Merian's elder daughter Johanna. THESE 12 PLATES APPEAR HERE IN THE PRESENT WORK IN THEIR EARLIEST FORM. The Metamorphosis was 'easily the most magnificent work on insects so far produced... [combining] science and art in unequal proportions, meeting the demands of art at the expense, when necessary, of science. Her portrayals of living insects and other animals were imbued with a charm, a minuteness of observation and an artistic sensibility that had not previously been seen in a natural history book' (Peter Dance The Art of Natural History pp.50-51). BM(NH) III, p.1290; Dunthorne 205; Great Flower Books (1990) p.119; Landwehr 128 and 131; Nissen BBI 1341.

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