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

Botany Cucurbita Watermelon caterpillar Rysbrack Merian


Product Description

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

Title- "Cucurbita, The Water-Melon"

Description- 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.

Condition = Excellent

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

Accompanied with a certificate of authenticity

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 entomology 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. She had been discredited in her own lifetime as a "fanciful old woman" who made up stories about bird-eating spiders and bridge-building ants...all of which we now know as true. In this context it is a study of Irony that an established artist would copy her work and call it his own. Her accomplishments were all achieved in an age when women were not formally educated.

The Curubita, sometimes called a Gourd, 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), an English engraver & murder victim.

John Wilkes, a London bookseller who published this print, 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, a printer and bookbinder. Pass was 49 and a partner in the firm Paas & Co.of High Holburn, London, engravers. It was 1838 when he visited Leicester as a traveling salesman of specialist hardware. The ensuing criminal case attracted wide attention ending with Cook being exhibited on a gibbet after his hanging, the last British criminal to be exhibited in such a way.


Product Videos

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Other Details

AP Botanical:
AP Insect:
Maria Sibylla Merian:
John Wilkes

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