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Maria Sibylla Merian’s Caterpillar Book
Author: Kay Etheridge
The Flowering of Ecology presents an English translation of Maria Sibylla Merian’s 1679 ‘caterpillar’ book, Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung und sonderbare Blumen–Nahrung. Her processes in making the book and an analysis of its scientific content are presented in a historical context. Merian raised insects for five decades, recording the food plants, behavior and ecology of roughly 300 species. Her most influential invention was an 'ecological' composition in which the metamorphic cycles of insects (usually moths and butterflies) were arrayed around plants that served as food for the caterpillars. Kay Etheridge analyzes the 1679 caterpillar book from the viewpoint of a biologist, arguing that Merian’s study of insect interactions with plants, the first of its kind, was a formative contribution to natural history.

Read Kay Etheridge’s blogpost on “Art Herstory”.

See inside the book.
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
In: The Flowering of Ecology
A Worldwide Descriptive Census, Ownership, and Annotations of the 1543 and 1555 Editions
Winner of the Third Neu-Whitrow Prize (2021) granted by the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation of IUHPS-DHST

Additional background information

This book provides bibliographic information, ownership records, a detailed worldwide census and a description of the handwritten annotations for all the surviving copies of the 1543 and 1555 editions of Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica. It also offers a groundbreaking historical analysis of how the Fabrica traveled across the globe, and how readers studied, annotated and critiqued its contents from 1543 to 2017. The Fabrica of Andreas Vesalius sheds a fresh light on the book’s vibrant reception history and documents how physicians, artists, theologians and collectors filled its pages with copious annotations. It also offers a novel interpretation of how an early anatomical textbook became one of the most coveted rare books for collectors in the 21st century.
In: The Fabrica of Andreas Vesalius