Virtual Reading Room of the Russian State Library

Treasures of the Russian State Library. Albums by Maria Sibilla Merian and Pierre-Joseph Redouté

16 November 2023, candidate of Art History and councillor of the RSL direction board Ms Natalia Y. Samoilenko terminated her lecture series "Treasures of the Russian State Library". The final meeting was devoted to the works by Maria Sibylla Merian and Pierre-Joseph Redouté.
Maria Sibylla Merian loved watching insects in their natural environment. She was the first to describe caterpillar turning into butterfly by stages in her sketches. She depicted other insects, she presented them with maximum details and as sitting on most beautiful flowers delineated with utmost accuracy. Ms Merian was a tremendous success with the public, nor less popular would she become later among the members of the research community. Carl Linnaeus and Erasmus Darwin used her illustrations in their research work. Peter the Great wished to get to know her personally, however he was late. In the year Maria Sybilla died he bought the collection of her sketches and thus some of her works were taken to Russia.
The story of the most prominent woman artist of the 18th century was followed by the report on the oeuvres by Pierre-Joseph Redouté, who used to be called "Flower Rafael" by his contemporaries. The master of botanic illustration, he made his true-to-life etchings in a dotted line. And his works were also esteemed by scientists for their naturalism. "Caterpillars Book", "Botany" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, certain sketches of the eight volumes of "Lilies" as well as other masterpieces which are nowadays considered rare and valuable can be seen and appreciated by anyone whoever wishes!

Video of the lecture is available over here.
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