The Prettiest Google Ever

Ok, so I know I said I'd stay away but had to pop in... Today's google was the prettiest I've ever seen!!!  


Apparently they're called "Google Doodles" (who knew?) and today's is celebrating the 366th birthday (odd day to celebrate--- hope someone remembers mine! ;)  of Maria Sybella Merian (1647-1717). 

 Merian was one of the greatest naturalists of her time.



According to India Today: "She was born into a family of artists and scholarly printers on April 2, 1647 in Germany.  Maria dedicated her life to the study and depiction of the metamorphosis of insects...



 "After her father's death, her mother married the still-life painter Jacob Marrel, who trained her as a flower painter. At the age of 13, Merian painted the transformation of silkworms into moths. Perhaps this was the beginning of her passion and her first hand observation of insect metamorphosis which later paved the way for her groundbreaking discoveries."




 Merian "published three collections of engravings of plants in 1675, 1677, and 1680. Afterward she studied insects, keeping her own live specimens, and made drawings showing insect metamorphosis, in which all life stages of the insect (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) were depicted in the same drawing...
"In her time, it was very unusual that someone would be genuinely interested in insects, which had a bad reputation and were colloquially called "beasts of the devil." As a consequence of their reputation, the metamorphosis of these animals was largely unknown. Merian described the life cycles of 186 insect species, amassing evidence that contradicted the contemporary notion that insects were "born of mud" by spontaneous generation." (wikipedia)


"...Although certain scholars were aware of the process of metamorphosis from the caterpillar to the butterfly, the majority of people did not understand the process. The work that she published was very popular in certain sections of high society as a result of being published in the vernacular, but her work was largely ignored by scientists of the time because the official language of science was still Latin.



"She is among the first naturalists to have observed insects directly. This approach gave her much more insight into their lives and was contrary to the way that most scientists worked at the time...


"The pursuit of her [government-funded] work in a Dutch Colony in South America was an unusual endeavour, especially for a woman. In general, only men received royal or government funding to travel in the colonies to find new species of plants and animals, make collections and to work there, or to settle. Scientific expeditions at this period of time were not common, and Merian's unofficial, self-funded expedition raised many eyebrows. She succeeded, however, in discovering a whole range of previously unknown animals and plants... Merian spent time studying and classifying her findings and described them in great detail. Her classification of butterflies and moths is still relevant today. She used Native American names to refer to the plants, which became used in Europe."  (wikipedia)





"Her lavishly illustrated book, the Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (The Metamorphoses of the Insects of Suriname- 1705) depicted the life cycles of insects she had studied. " (India Today)

What I wouldn't do for that book!!!!!!!!!!!!!



In the foreword she writes, "In my youth, I spent my time investigating insects. At the beginning, I started with silk worms in my home town of Frankfurt. I realised that other caterpillars produced beautiful butterflies or moths, and that silkworms did the same. This led me to collect all the caterpillars I could find in order to see how they changed". (Wikipedia)



{an image of an antique book, not THE book}


Recently I was working on putting a collection of what I thought of as "botanicals" together for a client and noticed that the artist whose work I was pulling from (Merian) was using lots of critters & bugs in the flower illustrations, which I thought was so unique. (I have a botanical obsession and so anytime I find some that are different, I get really excited!!!)  I had no idea she was female (All I had to go on was "Merian") and or that the bugs themselves were her true focus/ passion.  I also didn't put two and two together that I'd used her work on other projects before because they'd been fish and not botanicals.  I was so surprised to look into the google doodle today and find so much information about this artist whose work I've loved & used in the past.

I could definitely be one of those rich old men who collect rare books in a massive home library...  (If I were an old man or rich ;)  And I'm perfectly fine smattering naturalist drawings on the walls of almost every room in my house...  There's not much I find more beautiful or thought-provoking than botanical/ nature studies and there are so many incredible sources & artists out there.  





Anyway, I'm off to my family!!!  Hope you enjoyed finding out more about this talented woman...  I've learned that it's time I start doing more research into the artists whose work I love, rather than waiting for google to inform me ;) ;)





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20 comments:

An Urban Cottage said...

I looks like one of your fabrics!

Melanie A. said...

That was fascinating! Thanks! The more spider-y ones....eeeuuugghh! But the rest I'd love to have in every room of my house too. Hope you guys have a wonderful Spring break. :)

dwellonthese said...

Beautiful. And loved the education (I always mean to track down the origins but never do!)

Loretta Fontaine (APPLESandRUBIES) said...

Lauren- What a wonderful story and an exceptional woman!

I think insects still get a bad rap - when I have some insect "pests' around the house I try and learn about them to control them naturally - and end up admiring how amazing they are! (Of course, I still don't want them to live in my house!)

The illustrations are gorgeous - what an amazing talent for drawing she had.

Loretta

tokyojinja.com said...

Like you, I am obsessed with botanicals and I always love them more when they were created by a female artist. Although few got funding, there were numerous women working in this field - all that watercolor painting training gave them great skill. Enjoy your vacation!

eggdart said...

I've been obsessed with that doodle all day! Isn't she fascinating? I knew you'd love the illustration, too ;) Hope you're having a wonderful spring break with your boys!

Anna said...

So fascinating! Loved learning about this artist and seeing her work.
Thanks so much and have a great spring break!

Lane McNab said...

I had to comment Lauren because I too loved the Google doodle this morning when I woke up and saw it! I had no idea it was Maria Sybella's work though until I read your post. A few years ago I bought a book of hers and used the pages for an art grid for a client. I have loved her work ever since:

http://www.urbanorchardinteriors.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Slideshow-amys-grid.jpg

I love the etches you included in your post though--so beautiful. Her work does remind me of your fabrics.

-Lane
www.urbanorchardinteriors.com

Lane McNab said...

PS--I just read the other comments and had to laugh because the insects are actually my favorites! I had to make sure I didn't include them when I was doing that grid for my client though. She was creeped out by them too...

Windlost said...

Lauren!! I read the google doodle as soon as I saw it because it was so beautiful. So it was so nice to see your post. I am always touched when I read about women in previous centuries who had careers and supported themselves and travelled and didn't have to marry etc. I think I was always independently minded myself and I never wanted to get married until it was too late haha.

I love that you love her work. I think it's amazing that you already used it without knowing. In this rushed day and age, it is easy to see some pretty art and forget there was or is a whole life behind it, a whole beautiful story.

I think in a past life you were an old man naturalist. I am sure of it, with all your beakers and botanicals.

Xo Terri

michele said...

Did anyone notice that on Easter Sunday Google chose to remember Cesar Chavez instead of Jesus? I've been "Yahoo ing!" ever since.

Amy said...

Lauren, I loved this too and was surprised to see that we used many images from that book for Graham's nursery. What better for a baby boy's room than BUGS and flowers a combo of mamma and dadda! Thought you'd also like to see some large murals of art in case a project comes your way. Miss you! Amy

http://www.komar.de/en/products/photomurals/floral.html?tx_komarproducts_category%5BpUid%5D=483&tx_komarproducts_category%5Bindex%5D=3&tx_komarproducts_category%5Baction%5D=showCategory&tx_komarproducts_category%5Bcontroller%5D=Product&cHash=6d599be5415b5e86a71a16f7eabe260a

Amy Vermillion Interiors said...

girl, you need to design a fabric incorporating moths etc. LOVE!
Enjoy your family this week :)
AMy

Jan Jessup said...

Lauren, since you live in the Washington, DC area, I thought you would like to know that the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS has a collection of about 375 prints by Maria Sybella Merian. There are usually some on display in their Permanent Collection, always on view. NMWA is in downtown DC, at 13th & New York Avenues, a block or two from Metro Center.

She was truly a remarkable woman for her time--and her influence is still seen in contemporary fabric design. Thanks for sharing this find with your readers!

Best,
Jan Jessup at Calico

Lane McNab said...

Hi again Lauren. I promise this will be my last comment on this post! I just wanted to forward you a little blog that I love and get so many recommendations from. Sarah sort of curates really interesting artisan stuff of all kinds (monogrammed stationery, folk art, hand crafted furniture, etc) and this is where I originally heard of Merian's work.

http://keenandfitting.blogspot.com/

-Lane

Brenda Murphy said...

Great post! I love naturalist studies...you would love the Oppenheimer Museum in Chicago. They have original pieces that are breath-taking, as well as a vast store of reproductions...on -site framing too. Love your blog and your infectious enthusiasm for design:)

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Lauren,

Fabulous post!!!! I love learning new things and I was not aware of this incredibly talented lady. I cannot wait to explore more about her.

Enjoy your trip!

lynn said...

Hello! So funny you posted this because just a few months ago I ordered a book titled "Amazing Rare Things: The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery" and the picture on the cover is of the passion flower illustration. The book has gorgeous pictures in it. Also read your other post about chickens. I live on a small farm outside of Richmond and have free ranging chickens. They are so much fun! Hope you can get some. Your boys would love them!

Lynn

www.kidandgoat.com

Mary Ann at classic•casual•home said...

Fascinating....aways learning from you!!!

Paula said...

Her work is amazing! We actually have the book in the library I work at and used her images in an exhibition and for notecards, posters, etc.