Our Favorite Thing for today is Convolvulus and Metamorphosis of the Convolvulus Hawk Moth by Maria Sibylla Merian (2019.9, not on view)! Rebekah Utian is a Master’s student studying Early Modern Art history with Dr. Erin Benay.
“My favorite object in the CMA collection is Maria Sibylla Merian’s Convolvulus and Metamorphosis of the Convolvulus Hawk Moth (c. 1670–83), which portrays the carefully observed life cycle of the European pink-spotted hawkmoth. I particularly love the languid, grayish-brown caterpillar in the center, who is clearly the protagonist of this naturalist narrative, sprawling across his favorite food, the flowering bindweed.
“I am also drawn to Merian’s biography. Disregarding the insect lore of her time, which suggested these creatures spontaneously emerged from the mud, Merian meticulously collected, reared, and monitored the behavior of different insects for five decades. Her work demonstrates a truly unprecedented understanding of metamorphosis and her reckoning with the concept of symbiosis. Only fairly recently, Merian was given credit for her groundbreaking discoveries, and is now credited as the ‘mother of entomology.'”