New Book of Flowers

New Book of Flowers – Prestel Verlag – SĂ€chsische Landesbibliothek - Staats - und UniversitĂ€tsbibliothek (Dresden, Germany)

Nuremberg (Germany) — 1680

Botanical illustrations as inspiration for later artworks and patterns for fine embroidery: 36 elaborately colored plates by Maria Sibylla Merian with individual flowers, but also wreaths, bunches of flowers and bouquets

  1. Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) was a German naturalist and illustrator of scientific texts

  2. Merian first distinguished herself has a botanical illustrator with this impressive work

  3. In 1680, Merian united her three-volume series and published it as a single codex

New Book of Flowers

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
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  1. Description
  2. Facsimile Editions (1)
New Book of Flowers

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) was not only the daughter of the famous engraver Matthaeus Merian the Elder (1593–1650), but herself a successful naturalist and artist who devoted herself to illustrating scientific texts and was one of the first Europeans to intensively study insects. However, she first distinguished herself as a botanical illustrator with a three-volume series of books, which were united into a single volume in 1680, the New Book of Flowers or "Neues Blumenbuch". The 36 elaborate plates depicting colored copper plate engravings of individual flowers, wreaths, nosegays, bouquets, and in some cases insects, were probably inspired by works by Nicolas Roberts (1614–85) and Jacob Hoefnagel (1573 – ca. 1632), and later served in turn as models for other artists and as patterns for embroiderers.

New Book of Flowers

From an early age, the artistic talents of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) were evident and rightly so since she was from a family of artists: she was a descendant of the Frankfurt branch of the Swiss Merian family and her father was the famous engraver and publisher MatthĂ€us Merian the Elder (1593–1650), who died when she was only three years old. Therefore, her artistic training was left to her stepfather, Jacob Marrel (1613/14–81), a German still life painter active in Utrecht during the Dutch Golden Age. Merian would go on to become one of the most respected female artists of her age, even rivalling Rachel Ruysch (1664–1750), aside from her reputation as a naturalist and one of the most significant contributors to the field of entomology.

Success as a Botanical Artist

Although Merian is most famous for her work with insects, her first success came as a botanical artist for her Neues Blumenbuch. It was originally designed as a pattern book for embroidery, which was an essential part of the education of privileged young ladies. The first volume of twelve loose plates that were engraved by the artist and colored after the print was published in 1675 and was followed by the next two volumes in 1677 and 1680. It was a luxury printing that was produced in limited numbers and as such few specimens have survived to the present. Merian also sold some hand-colored editions of the series and used vellum that she primed with white before painting with watercolors and gouache pigments because the guild system barred women from using oil paint.
The drawings were meant to be decorative, not botanical, and Merian did not personally observe all of the flowers, with some appearing to be based on drawings by her stepfather and the French miniaturist Nicolas Robert (1614–85). Butterflies and damselflies are included among the flowers, but again not all were based on direct observation, and some appear to be based on drawings by Jacob Hoefnagel (1573 – ca. 1632). At this time, copying from other artists was not looked down upon and was considered to be an essential part of an artist’s training.


Alternative Titles
Neues Blumenbuch
M. S. GrĂ€ffin, M. Merians des Eltern seel: Tochter. NeĂŒes BlumenBuch
Size / Format
71 pages / 31.5 x 19.0 cm
31 full-page illustrations of plants
Botanical treatise
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
New Book of Flowers – Prestel Verlag – SĂ€chsische Landesbibliothek - Staats - und UniversitĂ€tsbibliothek (Dresden, Germany)
Prestel Verlag – Frankfurt, 1999
Facsimile Editions

#1 Neues Blumenbuch - New book of flowers

Prestel Verlag – Frankfurt, 1999

Publisher: Prestel Verlag – Frankfurt, 1999
Binding: Hardcover with dust jacket
Commentary: 1 volume by Marina Heilmeyer and Thomas BĂŒrger
Languages: English, German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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