Insect Prints: Butterfly Transformations & Metamorphoses

Insect prints showing butterfly transformations & metamorphoses. We are featuring 18th century woman entomologist Maria Sybilla Merian.  Learn about her Insects of Europe & Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium. Work by other entomologists follow. So keep scrolling down to see the rest of the collection.

Insect Prints by Moses Harris. Aurelian published London 1796.

His uncle a member of the first organized Society of Entomologists in England called the Society of Aurelians. After a massive fire, all the collections were lost. 14 years later, Moses Harris became the secretary of the second Society of Aurelians.

In 1776 Moses Harris published the Natural System of Colours. He furthered Sir Isaac Newton’s work on color, developing the color wheel which we still use today. Newton passed away in 1727 (born in 1643). It was nearly 50 years before Harris developed the color wheel.

Aurelian published London 1796 by Moses Harris

The beautiful watercolor copper plate engravings are on heavy wove rag with intense complementary colors. Decorative compositions of transformation and metamorphosis stages in butterflies. Each piece measures 10 1/2 x 14 1/2″ and are demonstrative of Harris’s life long passion.

Moses Harris Aurelian watercolor engravings from 1796. Double rag mats, 16×20″

Insect Prints showing transformations & butterfly metamorphosis. Moses Harris Aurelian. Hand Colored Insect Prints. These beautiful old butterfly prints are the work of Moses Harris, coming from his great work on Butterflies entitled The “Aurelian.” These are gorgeous, water colored engravings on hand made rag. These Butterfly Prints were produced in England in 1796, by Moses Harris – Chief of the Lepidoptera Society (or Butterfly Society). He was an EXPERT ON COLOR, first to illustrate the color wheel we use  today. The old engravings mat up perfectly to 16 x 20″ while the paper measures 12 14 x 16″.  Click here to contact us.

Spectacular 18th century art
Moses Haris Aurelian plate 5 $325.

A decorative set of 3 Insect Prints. Framed in gold bamboo.

 A wonderful trio of antique entomology lithographs.  A set of three 19th Century insect prints, published in America 1885. First class archival framing. The horizontal piece should be place in the middle, when hanging vertically or horizontally.  Each piece measures 13 x 16.”  $675. with free US shipping.  

Louis Prang is known the “father of American chromolithography.” The process where each and every color seen was applied in sequence, with individual, key stone limestone plates.  The plates are called lithographs.  A certain kind of limestone came from a certain quarry in Germany.  It had the exact porosity to become a lithograph. The process of chromolithography was utilized in America from about 1850-1910.  Deemed too laborious to use once photo mechanical printing began.

Call Anne to order 413-245-4197 or buy online on the SHOP page.You can learn about Merian at the bottom of this page.

Beautiful water colored engravings of butterflies and birds.

A pair of watercolor engravings which date to 1748-1770. Printed in the 18th century. The bookplates published in Nuremberg and Amsterdam. George Edwards and Dr. Seligmann were the authors. Each piece measures 10 1/2 x 17″. Priced and sold as a pair for $450.

A pair of butterfly & moth. German watercolor engravings from 1790. Laid paper. Excellent condition. Strong colors. Each piece measures 8 x 9 1/2″. $350 for the pair.

Celebrating a revolutionary woman in history: Maria Sybilla Merian & Her Insects of Europe.

This extraordinary set of insect prints showing butterfly transformations & metamorphoses consists of three pieces.  The exquisite set of antique rose and caterpillar prints are hand colored engravings date to 1730 Amsterdam.  It is the rare work of Maria Sybilla Merian and her Insects of Europe. Her insect prints showing transformations & metamorphosis are a trademark of her work on art & entomology.  Each piece measures 9×11″ and has been framed with archival materials.  Sold as a trio for $1200.  Lean more about her at the bottom of this page.

Insect prints with butterfly transformations: Maria Sybilla Merian  Insects of Europe.

Insect Prints-Maria Sybilla Merian. Sourced from her Insects of Europe, published Amsterdam 1730. Merian’s daughters Dorthea & Maria published them.  These are hand colored copper plate engravings on hand made hand laid rag.  Framed using the finest archival materials, each piece measures 11 1/2 x 12.”  The high end molding is dark green and gilt gold leaf.  Call 413-245-4197.

Insect Prints showing transformations & butterfly metamorphosis:  Insects of Europe by Maria Sybilla Merian.

These insect prints showing butterfly transformations & metamorphoses are by Maria Sybilla Merian. She pioneered her theories on the subject & roused medieval thinking once and for all.  Each piece is a hand colored copper plate engraving on hand made hand laid linen rag paper from 1730.    Small pieces of art, just measuring @ 7 x 8 1/4.” The prices vary from $150 and up. Click here to contact us.

Want to buy Merian’s European Insects? Call Anne at 413-245-4197.  Or buy them in our online SHOP.  Prices range between $200-350. each.

Insects of Europe was revolutionary. It changed Medieval thought forever.

Insects Prints from Insects of Europe by Maria Sybilla Merian.  It was a revolutionary work on European Entomology. Ours published Amsterdam 1730.  Maria Sybilla Merian was the first person, a pioneering woman, to explain through these stunning illustrations. The depictions are of the transformation & metamorphoses of butterflies, moths and other insects. Merian’s work on butterflies and moths on Insects of Europe was revolutionary. It changed Medieval thought forever. 

Maria Merian lead this significant discovery. She proved the stages of the transformation to the male dominated world of science.  Up to this time,  it was thought that butterflies were birthed from various sources. Rather than morphing from a cocoon or pupa.  She was enthralled with insects at a young age. Young Maria collected and studied them.  Women were not allowed to work in oils, only men were permitted so she worked in water colors.  Another huge influence on her life’s passion for creating the insect prints was her step father. He was a famous publisher named Mathias Merian. 

Insect Prints Maria Sybilla Merian Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium

Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam Bananas Engraving
Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam Bananas Engraving. Available, call Anne at 413-245-4197

A famous & rare work authored by Maria Sybilla Merian with depictions of insect transformations. The insect prints show butterfly transformations & metamorphoses in precise detail for the early Eighteenth Century.  Entitled Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium, Maria Sybilla Merian’s daughters worked on the “Insects of Surinam” which was published in 1730. These prints are hand colored copper plate engravings on hand made hand laid linen rag.  Each old print measures 14 x 20 1/2.” 

Insect prints showing transformations & butterfly metamorphosis.

The unusual antique insect prints come from Maria Sibylla Merian’s work entitled Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium. Published in The Hague, The Netherlands in 1730. The work features the insects and plants of Surinam in the Dutch Colony of South America. Fantastic composition and stunning details make this rare work one of the most sought after botanical or insect works in existence.

After viewing a collection of insects from South America inspired Merian and her daughter Dorothea Maria to embark on an expedition to Surinam, on the North East corner of South America. She proposed the concept of transformation in Medieval times, to a male run society. She was going to provide proof to the contrary by documenting the transformation, first in water color and then engraved.

Merian’s large folio was the result of going to such a remote area, a remarkable adventure for a young woman. It took her months to get to there and months to get back to Europe. And later lead to her death. Thankfully her daughters helped to complete this magnificent work on transformations. Her work focused on Surinamese flora and the entomology there. Her Insects of Surinam and Insects of Europe illustrate the Transformations & Metamorphosis of Insects and the plants on which they fed. Considered as some of the most famous documents published on the subject of Insect transformation during the 18th Century. She was a revolutionary woman of her day.

Merian is considered to have been one of the most significant contributors to the developmental stage of the field of entomology. A branch of zoology that deals with insects. She was a life-long dedicated entomologist. She also worked as a botanical artist, portraying insects with their host plants. Maria Sibylla Merian described the life cycles of some 186 insect species. Her specific area of interest, in the metamorphosis of insects, was the life cycles of moths and butterflies.

1730 Maria Sybilla Merian Grapes from Insects of Surinam
Insect Prints Maria Sybilla Merian Grapes from Insects of Surinam 1730 $3500.
1730 Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam
Insect Prints Maria Sibylla Merian Pommegranate, not available.
1730 Maria Sybilla Merian Castor from Insects of Surinam
1730 Insect Prints Maria Sybilla Merian Castor from Insects of Surinam $2700.
1730 Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam
1730 Insect Prints Maria Sybilla Merian Surinam Lemon $2800.
1730 Maria Sybilla Merian Cocoa from Insects of Surinam
1730 Insect Prints Maria Sybilla Merian Cocoa from Insects of Surinam $3000.
Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam
Insect Prints Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam Potato and Snake. Call for Availability.
1730 Maria Sybilla Merian Entomology from Insects of Surinam
1730 Insect Prints Maria Sybilla Merian Entomology from Insects of Surinam $2200.
Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam Plate 39 /85
Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam Plate 39 /85 $1200.
1730 Maria Sybilla Merian Vanilla from Insects of Surinam
Insect Prints Maria Sybilla Merian Vanilla, Insects of Surinam $2800.
1730 Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam
1730 Insect Prints Maria Sybilla Merian Insects of Surinam $2000.


Oliver Goldsmith Entomology. Antique Insect Prints of Beetles, 1850.

Oliver Goldsmith Entomology.  Old insect prints from the 1850’s. Watercolor engravings. Sourced from old books. Each piece showing butterflies and Beetles.  Hand Colored Engravings. Published in Edinburg, Scotland. Each piece measures 6 1/2 x 10″. Call 413-245-4197 to order.

Baron Cuvier Entomology Prints. Beautiful 19th Century Engravings of Bugs!

Insect prints showing butterfly transformations, moths and beetles.  Baron Cuvier early 19th century entomology engravings. Books were published in 1805 in London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland. These are  black & white English copper plate engravings on rag paper.  They are antiques and are nearly 220 years old. Each old engraving measures 6×9″. $45 each.

These Cuvier insect prints are double matted in rag to 11×14″ and are ready to frame. $75 each.

Antique hand colored Butterfly engravings c.1800, framed with archival materials.

Vintage hand colored butterfly engravings. Trio of c.1800 butterfly engravings with archival framing, in walnut burl veneer. The 2 larger pieces measure 13×16, and one smaller measures 11 wide x 9 high. A perfect trio. Set of three $550. Click here to contact us.

Shubert Insect Prints. Hand Colored Engravings from c.1875

Shubert Insect Prints. Hand colored entomology wood engravings which published in Germany c.1875.  Hand colored with watercolors at during the 19th century. All of the insect prints show butterfly & moths. Some show the insects transformations. Caterpillar, Larve Pupa and butterfly and/or moth. Multiple species are shown in each depiction.  Each piece measures 13 1/2 x18 1/2″ and run $95.each, 3 or more $75. each. Look with care, some smudging but overall very good condition with bright colors… Click here to contact us.

Insect Prints: American Lithographs of Butterflies, from 1885. Gold bamboo Frames

This trio (three) of 19th century American color lithographs have archival framing. Published in New York in 1885. Printed in colors by lithography. A process in which each and every color was applied by a keystone limestone plates. I have framed them in double rag matting and completed the with UV glass. Each measures 13×16″  Sold in a set of three for $675., shipped. Click here to buy now.  Click here to contact us or call 413-245-4197.

JJ Schmuzer Insect Prints. Miniature watercolor engravings from Vienna, c.1805.

Insect prints showing butterfly transformations by JJ Schmuzer  published c.1805 in Vienna, Austria. Small size, just measuring in at 4 1/2 x 7 1/2.” German hand colored copper plate engravings on hand made rag. Wonderful transformation stages of butterflies, caterpillars, moths, pupa, dragon flies and other bugs. An entomologists dream come true! Click here to contact us.

Humphrey Butterflies and Moths, English hand colored Insect Prints:

Published in England in 1865 the insect prints showing butterfly transformations here are by Humphrey.  They are hand colored antique lithographs in good condition and measure about 8×11″  Call 413-245-4197 to place your order.  $40 each with discounts on sets.

Insect prints showing butterfly transformations.  Antique prints of Butterflies, Moths, Beetles, Dragonflies, Caterpillars and other Bugs! Hand colored engravings and antique lithographs of entomological specimens from the 18th & 19th Centuries by Moses Harris & Maria Sybilla Merian.

Nodder Butterfly Prints!  18th Century. Antique Hand Colored Engravings of Butterflies!

Nodder Butterfly Engravings.  Hand colored 18th Century prints published in England c.1790.  Stunning condition and colors. Each print measures about 5×9″   Check back for more.  Click here to contact us.     

Learn more about Maria Sibylla Merian. A History Written by Christina Clarke of Williamsburg, VA.

      • Written February 9, 2015 for the use of Anne Hall Antique Prints. My friend Christina is captivated by Merian as an entomologist, artist and as a woman so she wrote this essay on her and has allowed me to publish it. Christina finds her insect prints showing transformations & butterfly metamorphosis by Maria Sybilla Merian absolutely captivating.
        April 2, 1647 – January 13, 1717 This remarkable woman is considered to have been one of the most significant contributors to the developmental stage of the field of entomology (a branch of zoology that deals with insects). She was a life-long dedicated entomologist. She also worked as a botanical artist, portraying insects with their host plants and painting flowers. Maria Sibylla Merian described the life cycles of 186 insect species. Her specific area of interest, in the metamorphosis of insects, was the life cycles of moths and butterflies.

    The Merian Family History and its Impact in the 17th Century

      • Matthaus Merian the Elder, was a painter and engraver in Switzerland, France, and Germany. In 1646, a year after the death of his first wife, Merian the Elder married Johanna Sibylla Heim, whose heritage was Dutch. Maria Sibylla Merian was born to the couple a year later, in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1647. Her father died when she was three years old. In 1651, her mother married Jacob Marrel, a German flower/still-life painter and art dealer, who was a widower with three young children. They lived in Frankfurt, Germany, where Jacob Marrel established a workshop and had two apprentices for instruction in drawing, painting and engraving. He and Maria Sibylla Merian developed a unique relationship. Marrel introduced Maria Sibylla to the art of miniature flower painting, against her mother’s will. Maria Sibylla secretly began to teach herself to draw and paint. Studying alongside Marrel’s male pupils, she learned how to draw, mix paints, paint in watercolor, and make prints. By the age of 11, she could engrave a copperplate. Beginning at age 13, when Maria Sibylla observed the metamorphosis of a silkworm, her documentation of nature continued for more than 50 years. She was enthralled with the raising of caterpillars “in glass jars, wooden boxes covered with gauze, in her attic and cellar” (Reitsma, 2008, p. 25). She was especially interested in capturing and raising caterpillars, to observe and document their life cycles. Maria Sibylla was tenacious in her collection and raising of thousands of caterpillars, over decades, and documenting their life cycles, i.e., drawing and describing them with careful attention and accurate details.

    Maria Sybilla Merian: Artist, Entomologist, Author, Wife and Parent

      • Johann Andreas Graff (1636-1701) was her step-father’s favorite pupil. Maria Sibylla and Johann A. Graff were married when she was 18 (1665). Johann was near 30 years old and was a publisher. They moved to his native Nuremberg in 1668. As a woman, Maria Sibylla Graff was prohibited from selling oil paintings, but was permitted to paint in watercolor on vellum. She taught embroidery and painting to the daughters of respected citizens in Nuremberg. The Graffs had two daughters, Johanna Helena (born 1668) and Dorothea Maria (born 1678). While in Nuremberg, Maria Sibylla began her prodigious publication of books on flowers and caterpillars. In 1675, the first volume (of three) of Neues Blumenbuch (New Book of Flowers) was published, by Johann’s publishing company. Each volume had 12 flower plates.

    Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung und sonderbare Blumen-nahrung

      • In 1679,Volume I, of her 3-volume book, Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung und sonderbare Blumen-nahrung (The Wondrous Transformation and Singular Plant Nourishment of Caterpillars) was published in German through her husband’s company. This publication illustrates the metamorphosis of caterpillars, against the background of their host plants. It was the first work in history to link art and entomology. In the preface of this phenomenal publication, Maria Sibylla states that she wrote it as a means of worshiping God (Reitsma, 2008). Also known as The Caterpillar Book, it was also published in Frankfurt in 1683 and posthumously, in Dutch, in Amsterdam in 1717. About 1686, Maria Sibylla left her husband. They later divorced, in 1692. She dropped Graff as her last name, and was thereafter known as Maria Sibylla Merian (her birth name). She, her two daughters, and her elderly mother, moved to a religious sect community known as Labadists, near Amsterdam, The Netherlands. While there, Marian developed a fascination for the tropical plants brought to the religious community by fellow Labadists, from their Suriname plantations in South America. In 1691, following the collapse of their religious community and the passing of her mother, Merian and her daughters moved to Amsterdam. Merian and her daughters, both of whom learned the skills of art from their mother, established a studio in Amsterdam. They painted birds, insects, and flowers. Merian had maintained contact with some of her Labadist acquaintances, and knew there was a Labadist plantation, in the Dutch colony of Suriname (AKA Surinam), on the northern coast of South America (Dutch Guiana). In 1699, at age 52, Merian decided to go to Suriname, where her older daughter, Johanna Helena, the wife of a Dutch merchant, was already living. She sold more than 200 of her paintings to raise money for the trip, and wrote a will before she left. Merian and her younger daughter, Dorothea Maria (age 21), traveled to Suriname and resided as guests of a Labadist plantation. Her observations of the local climate, where she and Dorothea resided during their two-year stay, are expressed in her accounts of Nature: vibrant butterflies, voracious caterpillars and ants, menacing reptiles, exotic fruits and vegetables, and treacherous jungle explorations (Getty Museum, 2008). Her accomplishments included describing the local uses of animals and plants — for some, she gave them their native names (Reitsma, 2008). Though she had hoped to stay in Suriname for five years, Merian developed a tropical fever (malaria?) and had to return home, in 1701, several years earlier than she had anticipated.

    Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium – Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname

      • The book for which Merian is the most famous is the one she published about the insects and host plants, that she observed, drew, and collected in Suriname (Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium – Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname). This book was initially published (in Dutch and German) in 1705. Merian devoted several years to this publication, which depicted a number of plants and insects that had not previously been seen or described in Europe. “This book was groundbreaking in many ways and had enormous impact on European perception of the tropical New World, the life cycles of insects and the manner in which natural history subjects could be portrayed graphically to show something of their natural context” (Bulletin of the Hunt Institute, pg. 8).

    Scientific Achievements by Maria Sybilla Merian

    Maria Sibylla Merian’s skills in observation and research, and her artistic talents, were a lead into the world of science. She helped to put entomology – the study of insects – onto a more scientific footing. Her publications were in German, or Dutch, rather than Latin, which was the publication language of scientists, at that time. It is of note that, together, her three books generated 19 editions, between 1665-1771. Both of Maria Sibylla’s daughters, Dorothea and Johanna, ensured the circulation of their mother’s scientific artwork. Upon returning from Suriname, Merian continued to supplement her income by selling insects and other creatures she had preserved. In 1702, the following creatures were listed as “animals in liquid” for sale: 1 crocodile, 2 large snakes, 18 small snakes, 11 iguanas, 1 gecko, and 1 small turtle. This activity continued for another decade. In 1715, Maria Sibylla suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed. She died in Amsterdam on January 13, 1717. The day of her death a large number of Maria Sibylla Merian’s paintings were sold to an agent of Tsar Peter the Great for his new natural history collection in St. Petersburg, Russia. References: Bulletin of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. Vol.22, No. 1, Spring 2010. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon Univ. Jacob-Hanson, Charlotte. August 2000. The Magazine Antiques. New York: Hirschl&Adler Galleries. J. Paul Getty Museum.Getty Center Exhibitions. 2008. Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science. Reitsma, Ella. 2008. Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science. Zolle,The Netherlands: Waanders Publishers. Todd, Kim. 2007. Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc. Wettengl, Kurt. 1998. Maria Sibylla Merian: Artist and Naturalist. Ostfildern: G. Hatje. Various references were observed to have used different interpretations of : geographic names,, the titles of Merian’s publications, historical information, and the languages used for publications (i.e., Latin, German, Dutch). Christina Clarke February 9, 2015.

Thank you for visiting! All of our insect prints are antique lithographs and hand colored engravings and by 18th and 19th Century naturalists & entomologists. Call Anne at 413-245-4197 to discuss your interests. I would like to help.