Night of the Notables Learning Center: Maria Sibylla Merian

Hello and welcome to Night of the Notables! I am Maria Sibylla Merian, and I’m so excited to share my story with all of you!

Below, you will find the link to a presentation about me:

Maria sibylla merian

Also, here’s a little activity I’ve created for you!

Required supplies: 

  • Pencil 
  • Paper 

My work was well known for combining specimens with their food, habitat, life cycle, and even predators and prey. See if you can do the same with the images below.  It doesn’t have to be perfect – just get a feeling of my flow and thought process when illustrating a piece!  

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  1. Brianna! This is beautiful work, as per! I love the layout, design and how you conveyed the info. Well done!

  2. Maria (or Brianna), Which discovery do you treasure the most? Also, what materials did you use to create your illustrations while in South America?

    • Hello! The discovery I treasure the most would be proving the theory of metamorphosis, as it shaped my entire career and helped kindle my passion for butterflies! In South America, I would’ve done a lot of sketches, watercolour, and engravings (a kind of printmaking technique that involves making cuts in a metal plate, which hold the ink and form a printed image)!

  3. I love the presentation. Your choice of graphics and fonts along with the clean design complements your subject matter. Maria Sibylla Merian lived a really interesting life. What was it about her that made her your subject of study?

    • Thank you very much! I am very passionate about both art and science, and I also wanted to pick someone who isn’t known very well 🙂

  4. Maria, how did your future family members react and respond when discovering your altered drawings? Your drawings are exquisite and pure. Do you have a favourite insect to draw and why? How did you go about observing metamorphosis? I am assuming hours of careful observation. I have a book you may be interested in!

    • Although I was not around to see my family react to any altered versions of my work, I know that my daughters would’ve been quite upset and frustrated since they also helped me with my work a great deal. However, as women during that period, it would’ve been quite hard for them to do anything to prove the inaccuracies the altered versions possessed.

      All insects fascinate me in general, but during my time I was particularly interested in the sphinx moth, whose tongue is briefly split in two half tubules before merging into one tongue just after it emerges from its pupa! I made an illustrating depicting this, using a magnifying glass to help me paint the tongue.

      My process for observing metamorphosis would be to sit and paint the chrysalis at regular intervals until the butterfly had emerged. Sometimes this could take all night!

      Thank you for your kind words about my illustrations and for your book recommendation – it’s always nice to receive positive feedback!

  5. Thank you! Your illustrations are fascinating, and what an incredible legacy!

  6. Beautiful presentation, great eminent choice, and lovely interactive activity! Great job!!

  7. Your blog was really well done! And the activity too. What would you say the most enjoyable part of researching your eminent person was ??

    • Thank you! The most enjoyable part of researching my eminent person was probably looking deeper into her artwork, as I got quite inspired by her various illustrations.

  8. Hello Maria!
    I loved learning about all of your accomplishments! And the activity was so much fun! Awesome learning centre!

  9. Your presentation is so aesthetic and the interactive drawing activity was so creative! Maria, thank you so much for sharing your scientific discoveries and beautiful art with the rest of the world!

  10. Your presentation was beautifully done and I learned so much about Maria!

  11. Wow!! Your presentation was so beautiful, engaging, informative, and overall so well done! Thank you for sharing your inspiring and intriguing story! I find it super cool that you combined both art and science in your career! You inspire me, and many others, to keep creating art about nature 🙂 Well done!

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