Outreach & science communication
Local painting group visits RES Library
Members of Harpenden Botanical Painting Group visited RES Library for a tour of the Library, and to view some of the 1,500 strong collection of rare entomology books that it holds.
They viewed a selection of 18th Century books featuring hand coloured copper plate etchings of entomological subjects. Our collection is of particular interest to botanical artists as many works feature insects on the plants on which they feed.
A highlight of the visit was “Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium” or “The Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam” by Maria Sibylla Merian, which features over 60 large scale etchings of caterpillars and butterflies. Merian is considered one of the greatest scientific illustrators of insects and plants of all time and is thought to be the first person to draw the full life cycle of insects together with their host plants. 1699, at 52, she travelled with her 21-year-old daughter to Surinam, in order to find, rear, and draw caterpillars. The result was this book, first published in 1705, which bought her fame, and was studied by scholars well into the 19th Century.
“It was really inspiring, and I think a few of us will be incorporating more insects into our drawings as a result.”Member Irene Boogerman
RES members are able to view items in the Rare Book Collection by appointment. Contact the Librarian, Rose Pearson firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.