Watercolour and gouache on vellum (15 x 11 4/8 inches), float-mounted and framed.
Provenance: Probably Pieter van den Brande; by descent to E.C. Baron van Pellandt, his sale, Sotheby's, 26th September, 1972, lot 318b; with Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 15th November, 1994, lot 26.
This beautiful painting is from a group of some 21 botanical watercolours by the same hand formerly in the E.C. Baron van Pallandt collection. In the 1972 sale catalogue the drawings were attributed to Anthonie Henstenburgh, but they are not obviously close in style to any of that artist's signed works.
The attribution to Johanna Herolt, the daughter of Maria Sibylla Merian, was proposed by D. Sam Segal when two other drawings from the group reappeared in the sale of the H.R. Bijl Collection (Sotheby's, Amsterdam, 17th November, 1993, lots 49 and 51).
As Robert Jan te Rijdt has shown, it seems that virtually all of the drawings sold from the van Pallandt collection in 1972 originated from the Middelburg collection of Pieter van den Brande (167?-1718); for further information see Charles Dumas and Robert-Jan ti Rijdt, "Kleur en Raffinement, Tekeningen uit de Unicorno collectie", exhibition catalogue, Amsterdam, Museum Het Rembrandthuis, and Dordrechts Museum, 1994-1995, catalogue 33, illustrated.
Herolt-Graff was the eldest daughter of the celebrated and important botanical artist Maria Sibylla Merian and Johann Andreas Graff. She was born in Frankfurt, but in 1668 moved with her family to Nuremberg. In 1681 Maria Sibylla Merian separated from Graff and returned to Frankfurt, in order to live with her mother, Johanna Sybilla Heim, after her stepfather Jacob Marrel's death. Although Johann Graff joined his family there later, in 1686 Merian left her husband permanently and moved with her two daughters and her mother to a religious community of Labadists in Wieuwerd, Friesland. In 1691 Maria and her daughters moved to Amsterdam, where they set up a studio painting flowers and botanical subjects.
Maria Sibylla Merian's first and rarest work, the "Blumenbuch", was issued in 3 parts, each consisting of 12 plates, in 1675, 1677 and 1680, respectively. In 1680 a composite issue appeared of all three parts, newly entitled "Neues Blumenbuch", with two leaves of text containing an introduction and a register of plant names. While in Germany she married the Nuremberg painter Johann Andreas Graff, and published the first two parts of the "Raupenbuch" .
In 1699, following Merian's separation from her husband, Merian travelled with her daughters to Dutch Surinam: "expressly to study and record the insect life of the tropics... this voyage was not only unusual for a woman in her position, it was unprecedented for any European naturalist to venture such an independently financed and organized expedition. In Surinam she worked for almost two years collecting, observing and painting over ninety species of animals and sixty or more species of plants" (Etheridge, page 2).
Merian returned from Surinam in 1701, and in late 1704, she published her magnum opus, "Metamorphosis insectorum surinamensium" in Dutch. In 1713 she published a revised Dutch edition in her own more succinct translation, of the "Raupenbuch", as "Der Rupsen", with part III delayed by her poor health, appearing posthumously in 1717. As early as 1705, Merian had projected publication of the work in Latin as well as Dutch, but this first Latin edition did not appear until after her death, under the imprint of the Amsterdam publisher Johannes Oosterwijck, who had acquired all the plates and texts of Merian's works from Dorothea at the time of her move to St. Petersburg in the autumn of 1717. Johanna married the merchant Jacob Hendrik Herolt, also an ex-Labadist, in 1702. They had two children. Johanna moved with her husband to Surinam in 1711 where she probably died, sometime after 1723. Kay Etheridge "Maria Sibylla Merina: The First Ecologist?". http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/merian/. Catalogued by Kate Hunter