Maria Merian very definitely did not grow up in a time and place that valued her skills and abilities as a scientist and an artist. She managed to find ways around the many expectations put upon her as a woman in the late 1600s, learning to draw and paint from her father and then using that as a way to further her interest in science, eventually leaving her husband and moving to a religious community and then Amsterdam and then traveling the world.
It’s not just that the illustrations are – not surprisingly – wonderful in this book. Maria’s story is a well-written, dramatic tale, full of interesting details, explanatory sidebars, and a clear picture of what Maria’s daily life might have held. You go, girl.
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman