A butterfly scientist and mesmerizing Monarchs

Engraving of a Anna Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) portrait by her son-in-law Georg Gsell (from Chrysalis)

“Just living is not enough, said the butterfly. 
One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
~ Hans Christian Andersen 

By now you know I am fascinated by butterflies. Their magical lifecycle and the transformation they symbolize have mesmerized people for ages. I can’t help but hold my breath when one flutters by me, even though I read somewhere they don’t hear.

Plate from ”Erucarum Ortus”  by Maria Sybilla Merian (1647-1717)

At Schiphol last year I came across a wonderful book. The airport has a library that features books by Dutch writers in foreign languages. This one was “Die Blumenkönigin: Ein Maria Sibylla Merian-Roman or “Maria Sibylla, een ongebruikelijke passie.” I read it in German even though I generally prefer the original language. Inez van Dullemen’s account of the life of Maria Sibylla Merian is very fascinating. She was a pioneer in recording and studying the life cycle of butterflies, and devoted her life to nature research.
books about butterflies, Die Blumekoenigin, The Monarch Butterfly, Butterflies

“Before Darwin, before Humboldt, before Audubon, Maria Sibylla Merian sailed from Europe to the New World on a voyage of scientific discovery. An artists turned naturalist, Merian studied insects for most of her life. Over the course of two years, she stalked the sweltering rainforests of Surinam, flipping over leaves and peering down the throats of flowers, looking for the caterpillars that were her passion.”
~ Kim Todd, Chrysalis 

This example of a self-made woman in the 17th century certainly puts my life in perspective. I am keen to peruse her original book if I can track it down.Engraving of a Anna Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) portrait by her son-in-law Georg Gsell (from Chrysalis)

Engraving of a Anna Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) portrait by her son-in-law Georg Gsell (from Chrysalis)

After the butterfly sightings at the Botanical Garden, I sifted through my photographs from there and earlier shots at Millennium Park. There the Monarchs would come out around 3 pm in September and were always lovely to behold.

Monarch butterflies at Millennium Park

Monarch butterfly at Chicago Botanical Garden by Maike's Marvels

Monarch butterfly at Millennium Park by Maike's Marvels

I have various project ideas for these images, but for now I have posted the following projects on Etsy:Migrating Monarch butterflies by Maike's Marvels, encaustic on canvas

Migrating Monarchs

This 8×10 inch canvas is based on photos from the botanical garden. I pulled a wikipedia description of the monarch and layered it into encaustic along with some hand-stamped butterfly papers. Then I duplicated the two images in various sizes after hand-cutting the individual butterflies.

Migrating Monarchs by Maike's Marvels collage

I felt a bigger piece was in order and this 12×12 inch board evolved from Millennium park sightings.Migrant Danaus by Maike's Marvels encaustic on flat panel

Migrant Danaus after a wonderful book

The background includes a map of the western hemisphere (along which Monarchs migrate), various butterfly stamps and my photos.

Migrant Danaus by Maike's Marvels photographs in encaustic collage

Someday I’ll visit the mass hibernation site of Butterfly Park. Have you seen any Monarchs in your neighborhood?

“Happiness is as a butterfly which,
when pursued, is always beyond our grasp,

but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” 
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

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