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  • Botany Fruit Cucurbita or Water Melon Africa Antique copper-plate engraving by J. Pass after German artist J. Rysbrack  Encyclopaedia Londinensis Published by J. Wilkes, London 1796
  • Caterpillar that lives on the watermelon
  • Pupa or chrysalis used by the caterpillar to transform.
  • The caterpillar transforms into the moth, the life cycle as illustrated by Maria Sibylla Merian, 1719.

Botany Cucurbita Watermelon caterpillar Rysbrack Merian


Product Description

Botany Cucurbita, Watermelon Africa, Insects, caterpillar, Rysbrack, Merian 

Watermelon showing fruit, leaves, stems & flowers. Includes caterpillar, chrysalis or pupa, egg sack, and red moth.

Published by J. Adlard, London "as the Act directs", 16 September 1796


Antique copper-plate engraving by J. Pass attributed after German artist J. Rysbrack for Encyclopaedia Londinensis; or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature, Comprehending compiled by John Wilkes.

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717)

The original artist of this image, that has been attributed to J. Rysbrack, was actually Maria Sibylla Merian, was a German-born naturalist and nature artist known for her illustrations of insects & plants. Her works on insect development and the transformation of insects through the process of metamorphosis contributed to the advance of science of entemology in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. She was one of the first naturalists to have studied insects recording the life cycles of 186 insect species. Her detailed documentation of the nature of metamorphosis was at odds with the contemporary ideas of how insects developed.

Merian’s observations and illustrations of insects and plants in various life stages were remarkable for their scientific quality. Her classification methods are still used today.Remarkably she undertook scientific expeditions at a time when such endeavors were unusual & the domain of men only.

The original image of this study was used in her publication “Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium" in 1705. Her daughters brought out a second edition in 1719, pressing each original copper plate creating a “counter impression” which was a reverse of the original. This is what has been credited to Rysbrack in this 1796 publication.

Sometimes called a Gourd, the plants in this family are grown around the tropics and in temperate areas, where those with edible fruits were among the earliest cultivated plants both in the Old and New Worlds. The Cucurbitaceae family ranks among the highest of plant families for number and percentage of species used as human food..

John Pass or Paas (c.1783–1832) was an English engraver and murder victim.

John Wilkes, a London bookseller, knew Pass at the end of the 18th century, and took him on for illustrations of his Encyclopaedia Londoniensis. Pass produced plates for volume 13 of the work.

John Paas (name used legally) was murdered in Leicester by James Cook, in a criminal case that attracted wide attention. Pass was aged 49, a partner in the firm Paas & Co. of High Holburn, London, engravers. He was in Leicester as a traveling salesman of specialist hardware. Cook, a printer and bookbinder, was exhibited on a gibbet after being hanged, the last British criminal to be exhibited in such a way.

Condition = Excellent

Image = 20.7 x 12.6 cm (8 1/4 x 5 inch) 

Accompanied with a certificate of authenticity

Product Videos

Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam, Maria Sibylla Merian - The Cottonian Collection (06:18)
We are often asked by visitors if we can "open the books" in our incredible Cottonian Collection, so these films are our way of saying "yes"! This nationally important collection encompasses a 2,000 volume library, several thousand prints, Old Master drawings, oil paintings, bronzes and sculptures and works by Sir Joshua Reynolds. The Collection was largely compiled by Charles Rogers (1711-1783) in mid-18th Century London before being inherited by the Cotton family on his death. The Collection remained with the Cotton family for three generations until it was finally gifted to the people of Plymouth in 1853 as part of William Cotton III’s bequest. Initially part of the Proprietary Library, it is now one of the most important collections held at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery.
  • Metamorphosis ...
    We are often asked by visitors if we can "open the books" in o...
  • A Curious Perf...
    A Curious Performance: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Art of Nat...

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