Before Darwin, before Audubon, there was Maria Sibylla Merian.
An artist turned naturalist known for her botanical illustrations, Merian was born just sixteen years after Galileo proclaimed that the earth orbited the sun. But at the age of fifty, she sailed from Europe to the New World on a solo scientific expedition to study insect metamorphosis—an unheard-of journey for any naturalist at that time, much less a woman.
When she returned, she produced a book that secured her reputation, only to have it savaged in the nineteenth century by scientists who disdained the work of “amateurs.”
Exquisitely written and illustrated, Chrysalis takes us from golden-age Amsterdam to the Surinam tropics to modern laboratories where Merian’s insights fuel a new branch of biology. Kim Todd brings to life a seventeenth-century woman whose boldness and vision would still be exceptional today.