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 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