On the Eve of TEFAF, Shapero Rare Books Sells Merian’s "Insectorum" Folio

merian-book-shapero-stand-TEFAF-web.jpgShapero Rare Books has announced their first major sale at TEFAF Maastricht prior to the official opening on 10 March 2017. One of the highlights on their stand is a lavishly illustrated folio Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam) by Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) which has been sold to a European collector. Priced by Shapero at £125,000, this hand-coloured copy of the 1726 edition is a masterpiece of both art and science; the German born naturalist was the first to record the full life cycle of many species of butterflies and moths. 

A Study of Metamorphosis: More Than 300 Years Ago

At the age of 52, Merian, who settled in Amsterdam in 1691, set out for the Dutch colony now known as Surinam in South America. She spent two years studying and drawing the indigenous flora and fauna until forced to return after contracting malaria. Despite her illness, Merian published her Magnus Opus, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium, three years later, filled with paintings of Suriname's plants and animals, especially of moths and butterflies, as well as spiders, and even snakes and lizards. Many of these tropical species were unknown to Europeans at the time.


The exceptional group of her works in the Royal Collection formed the basis of the exhibition held last year at the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace that travels to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. Exactly 300 years after her death, the Frankfurt-born botanist, zoologist and painter is finally being recognised as a pioneering woman of science at an international symposium in the Dutch capital this June.

Shapero Rare Books has exhibited at TEFAF for over 20 years. Other notable natural history books on stand 231 include a first edition folio of the Wunderkammer by Dutchman Albertus Seba. 

About Shapero Rare Books:

Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in rare books and works on paper. Its experts have over 100 years’ experience in the book world with particular expertise in fine illustrated books from the 15th to the 20th Century, particularly natural history, travel, guidebooks and Russian works. In 2014 it launched Shapero Modern, a modern and contemporary prints department.

Auction Guide