A while ago I was browsing through the art books at the Amsterdam public library and found a book about Maria Sybilla Merian (1647-1717). She must have been quite a spectacle in her time as she was one of the very rare women who illustrated and studied nature.
Mrs Merian was mostly facinated by the metamorfosis of carterpillars into butterflies and was the first to draw them together with the plants they lived on. She made a book (with her daughters) about the insects and plants of Surinam. Later in life she lived in Amsterdam where she continued her work.
I am quite facinated by this woman. Imagine her in a male domitated scientific scene breeding and studying her own carterpillars. She must have been looked at as a bit weird at the very least...
Therefor it's even more inspiring that in a time when this was quite an uncommon thing to do for a woman she kept following her own path.
This brought me to another book, in which she is featered which I found and purchased online:
Natural History - extraordinary rare book selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library
This book contains a wide range of funny, beautiful and interesting illustrations of animals, plants and other discoveries. It comes in a beautiful box with a selection of prints of the featured illustrations in the book.
The pictures are lovely and so are the essays about them but there's one thing that I wish would have been different: the paper of the book.
The prints and box are printed on beautiful paper that has a slight grain and therefor a natural look and feel. The book however is printed on this shiny paper in a very common A4 size and I so wish it would have had a more natural feel.
I quess I'm a bit neurotic about paper ;-)
But other than that, it is a wonderful and inspiring book to have!