[Brief an Johann Georg Volckamer] : vom 31.07.1704

Universitätsbibliothek Erlangen-Nürnberg


At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the artist and naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) wrote to the Nuremberg physician and botanist Johann Georg Volkamer (1662-1744) with whom she had close business and scientific ties. After returning from her dangerous expedition to the tropical rainforests of South America, she provided information on the development of her main work, the "Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium". She described her diverse work as a researcher, starting with collecting caterpillars, breeding them and finally the dissecting of the insects. As a businesswoman, she offered her customer exotic specimens and worried about the difficult funding of her new work, which appeared in large format and was to make her world-famous. Since Merian left no autobiography and no self-portrait, her letters are the most important testimonies of an extraordinary life as researcher and artist at the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. In this letter, Merian reports on the progress made in printing her new work: 30 sheets had already been handed over to an intermediary for the transport and delivery in Nuremberg and ten more were about to be completed. A second attached letter to the "godmother Auerin", the painter Dorothea Maria Auer (1641-1707) shows that Merian maintained her private friendships in Nuremberg even over 20 years after her departure. This second letter has not been preserved.