Friday, August 17, 2018
Fact Friday: The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: how Maria Merian's art changed science by Joyce Sidman
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: how Maria Merian's art changed science by Joyce Sidman. 240 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, February, 2018. 9780544717138. (Review from purchased copy.)
Scientists in the late 1600s had little to no formal training and were nearly exclusively male. Indeed, a woman who expressed an interest in science and the natural world could be persecuted as a witch. Maria Merian's father died when she was three. Her mother then married an still life artist and young Maria was his assistant. He would send her into the garden to collect insects and inquisitive Maria would wonder where they came from. She also needed to learn skills from her mother about running a household. Still, she managed her chores for both parents and still found time to meticulously observe and record her insect collections.
This informative biography is gorgeous in every way from its design through its illustration and writing. The book has heft. The cover and end-pages are lovely. Each page includes at least one illustration, whether Merian's art, engravings and other paintings from the time, maps or photographs. Each chapter is named for a phase in of insect development and there is a poem written by the author to introduce each chapter.
Back-matter is extensive and includes a timeline, author's note, quote sources, a bibliography, suggestions for further reading, image credits and an index.
Maria Merian's story is absolutely fascinating. This biography is a first-purchase for any library.