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drawing / album

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    SL,5275.61

  • Description

    Caiman wrestling with a red and black snake, from an album entitled 'Merian's Drawings of Surinam Insects &c'; with red and blue caterpillar, and chrysalis on a red-flowered plant Watercolour and bodycolour, heightened with white, and with pen and black ink, on vellum

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1701-1705 (circa)
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 306 millimetres
    • Width: 454 millimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Entry from J.Harvey's commentary to the Folio Society facsimile of the Surinam Album (London, 2006):

    'This is one of the most famous illustrations from the Maria Sibylla Merian collection at the British Museum. The bold and dramatic style and the clearly defined outline to the caiman are quite different in style to the earlier watercolours, suggesting that this is by a different hand, possibly one of Merian’s daughters. It is believed to depict a young Spectacled Caiman, 'Caiman crocodiles' (Linnaeus), a species which occurs in Surinam. It is struggling with a Red Pipe Snake, also known as a Coral Pipe Snake, 'Anilius scytale' (Linnaeus). (See also watercolour 70). This illustration was included as plate 69 in the posthumous 1719 edition of Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (Johannes Oosterwijk, Amsterdam.'
    Merian trained her assistants, including her daughters, to make different versions of her designs, and it is possible that Dorothea’s area of expertise may have been reptiles.

    Additional lit.: K.Schmidt-Loske, 'Die Tierwelt der Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) Arten, Beschreibungen und Illustrationen', Marburg, 2007, p. 107, no. 6.4.

    More 

  • Location

    Not on display (German Roy Vellum XVIIIc)

  • Exhibition history

    2003/4 Dec-Mar, British Museum Enlightenment Gallery
    2009 Apr-Jul, British Museum, Gallery 90, Merian and her Daughters

  • Subjects

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1753

  • Acquisition notes

    Transferred to P&D 11 March 1885 (see note on fly-leaf of album SL,5275.1-91). Transferred from the Department of Manuscripts.

  • Department

    Prints & Drawings

  • Registration number

    SL,5275.61

  • Additional IDs

    • N,01.61
Crocodile wrestling with a red and black snake, from an album entitled 'Merian's Drawings of Surinam Insects &c'; with red and blue caterpillar, and chrysalis on a red-flowered plant Watercolour and bodycolour, heightened with white, and with pen and black ink, on vellum

Crocodile wrestling with a red and black snake, from an album entitled 'Merian's Drawings of Surinam Insects &c'; with red and blue caterpillar, and chrysalis on a red-flowered plant Watercolour and bodycolour, heightened with white, and with pen and black ink, on vellum

Image description

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