Talk:Maria Sibylla Merian

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I've translated some stuff from, their article is featured standard. It is a rough translation and I'm not great at French so feel free to chop and change it, or even revert it if you think its that bad :) - FrancisTyers 23:06, 24 December 2005 (UTC)


I've translated the quotes from French. They presumably were translated from German. This could lead to a double translation effect. It would be nice if we could find, or get, the quotes translated direct from the original German. - FrancisTyers 01:18, 26 December 2005 (UTC)

Nationality: small detail[edit]

If MSM was born in Frankfurt, how can she be Swiss-born? Her father was Swiss, clearly, but does that make her Swiss-born? Or is she German-born because that was the soil on which her mother gave birth? Mamawrites 13:20, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

I've removed that as it isn't mentioned in the de or fr versions. You are right, she should correctly be German-born. - FrancisTyers 14:50, 1 January 2006 (UTC)
And yet, the lead text still says "...was a Swiss naturalist and scientific illustrator". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:26, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
She was born in Frankfurt (Germany), where she lived several years. She then lived in Nuremberg (Germany), in West Friesland (The Netherlands), in Amsterdam (The Netherlands); then in Suriname (South America), and then back in Amsterdam, where she died. Her only connection to Swiss citizenship was through her father. Her mother (Johanna Sybilla Heimius, from Frankfurt) was German. Her stepfather (Jacob Marell) was German. Her husband (Johann Andreas Graff) was German too. In fact, she never walked onto Swiss soil, and yet the article insists that she was a "Swiss naturalist and scientific illustrator". One would think that nationality stems from the country where one is born and/or spends one's life, not the country of origin of a parent. --AVM (talk) 19:01, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
I have removed the "Swiss" wording as consensus here (and in the Real World (TM)) is that she was German by birth, grew up in Germany, and never even visted Switzerland, much less lived there. On a personal note, i will comment that her picture was put on a German stamp, not a Swiss stamp, and until today i have never seen her called "Swiss." Catherineyronwode (talk) 03:03, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Germany was not existing at that time as a country. Literature about her Swiss citizenship: e.g. "Maria Sibylla Merian von Basel, 1647–1717". In: Rudolf Wolf: Biographien zur Kulturgeschichte der Schweiz, vol. 3, pp. 113–118. Orell Füssli, Zürich 1860. --Rüeblibüebli (talk) 06:51, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Small detail number two: date[edit]

Continuing "Small Detail", but on a different note: the inset box with Merian's picture notes her date of birth as 2d April 1627, which seems reasonable given the timeline of her accomplishments, but the lead paragraph discussing her parentage cites her date of birth as 2d April 1611. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:48, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Last sentence[edit]

However to this day, no cases are known of a mygalomorphae hunting a bird.

This contradicts the Goliath birdeater article. That spider was observed to have eaten a hummingbird. Whether or not that sighting is spurious, it is a known case "of a mygalomorphae hunting a bird." In any case the grammar is wrong. Mygalomorphae is plural (though referring to one group) and capitalized; the singular is megalomorph. --♦♦♦Vlmastra♦♦♦ (talk) 01:29, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

The Thames and Hudson "Seventy Great Journeys in History" book by R. Hanbury-Tenison has an article on Maria Merian too (p.134) which mentions, "Her remarkable painting of a bird-eating spider was ridiculed until an English naturalist made the same observation nearly 100 years later." I think the comment here should be modified. As a matter of interest in this question, the article on her in this book contains an illustration of the painting in question, with the spider on top of a little humming bird only a little bigger than itself. Sensantius (talk) 10:32, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Suggest the phrasing: Vogelspinne (a spider of the infraorder Mygalomorphae)translated literally as bird spider Infopt2000 (talk) 22:45, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

(Anna) Maria[edit]

She appears to acquire this extra name Anna at least some of the time.
The article contains no discussion of any issue surrounding the naming convention.
Varlaam (talk) 20:20, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Dying a pauper[edit]

I thought this was a very interesting article about a person I'd never heard of. I've taught students about Franceso Redi, but not about Maria Sibylla Merian. Thanks for putting this up. I was sort of saddened to read she had died in poverty. I was also a little surprised b/c her drawings were seen shortly after her death by a prince (can't remember the name). So I thought she'd have money I guess. Apparently not. I'd just be curious to know in what registry she was listed as a pauper. Maybe it's wrong? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:03, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Popular Culture Addition[edit]

There's a wonderful book for kids about her called Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian, released in 2010 by Margarita Engle. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is inspiring to young children. I'm hoping it can be mentioned in this article about her life, to expose more people to her, but I just wouldn't know how to word it properly. (talk) 00:24, 3 April 2013 (UTC)Jeran

--Infopt2000 (talk) 14:34, 18 January 2014 (UTC)== Slight correction of timeline ==

When i got to the Wikipedia entry today it was stated that Merian's rediscovery took place in "the last years of the 20th century." The earliest cite, however, was from 1987 -- far from "the last years" of the century. And, actually I know of an article describing Merian's life and scientific contributions, with illustrations of her work, that ran eleven years earlier than that, in "Insect World Digest," an entomological journal. I have foot-note-cited this 1978 article about Merian and i have revised the wikipedia entry text to mention her rediscovery as dating to "the last quarter of the 20th century." My mother wrote that article, by the way -- and as far as she knew (and she was a research librarian), it was the first serious mention of Merian in an illustrated scientific journal. Catherineyronwode (talk) 02:52, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

I'm a bit doubtful about "rediscovery", especially as the last external link refers to a publication from 1900. Merian's work has always commanded respect (and respectable prices), there were copies of the Surinam book in Sir Hans Sloane's collection, which went to the British Library. Should this read "Merian's re-evaluation as an entomologist"? This is certainly what the German wikipedia text says. I've put in a rather ugly sentence, too many re- words, to reflect the German text. Infopt2000 (talk) 14:57, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

I've altered the sentence about "rediscovery" to make it a bit less ugly, and I've put in a paragraph heading to separate it out from "Surinam", again following the German textInfopt2000 (talk) 12:25, 19 January 2014 (UTC)