The Flowering of Ecology

Maria Sibylla Merian’s Caterpillar Book

Series: 

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.

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Kay Etheridge Ph.D. (1986), University of Florida, is a Professor of Biology at Gettysburg College. She has published articles and book chapters on physiological ecology and on the influence of images in the history of biology.
Foreword
Brian Ogilvie

Preface
Acknowledgments
List of Illustrations

part 1: The Flowering of Ecology


1 Before the Transformation
 Introduction
 Art and Science Intertwined
 Drawings/Manuscripts
 Still Life Painting
 Finding God in Nature
 Natural History of Insects in Printed Works
 Publishing Illustrated Natural History Books
 Studies of Metamorphosis

2 A Life Investigated
 Growing up in Frankfurt am Main
 Early Fascination with Insects
 Marriage and the Move to Nuremberg
 The Flower Books
 Beginnings of the Raupen Books
 Merian’s Motivations

3 Described and Painted from Life
 Fieldwork: The Basis of Merian’s Empirical Studies
 Laboratory Work
 Merian’s Study Journal
 Merian’s Other Sources of Information
 Illustrating the Raupen Book
 Composing the Images
 Making the Plates
 Merian’s Counterproofs
 Composing the Text of Her Book
 Financing, Printing and Marketing the Raupen Book

4 For the Benefit of Naturalists
 The Rupsen Books
 The Last Caterpillar Book
 Later Editions and Their Lasting Effects
 Recognition and Reception by Near Contemporaries
 Merian’s Influence on Natural History
 Merian’s Reputation as a Naturalist

part 2: Plates, Translation and Commentary


Maria Sibylla Merian’s Caterpillar Book

Appendix: Translation of Selected Entries from Maria Sibylla Merian’s Study Journal
Bibliography
Index
All interested in Maria Sibylla Merian, early entomological studies, the history of natural history and the integration of images and text in early modern works of biology.