If you used Google Search in Europe on Tuesday 2nd April 2013 you will have noticed the image below. This ‘Doodle’ cleverly incorporates Google’s name in artwork by Maria Sibylla Merian.


Google produced this doodle to celebrate the birth of Maria Merian. Her artwork is very fresh, full of life and very detailed. You might think it was produced today – but in fact she was born 366 years ago, in 1647.

Think about that for a second.

The Pilgrim Fathers left Plymouth, UK, to settle in America in 1620, only 27 years before Maria was born; Oliver Cromwell was two years away from gaining power in England and beheading King Charles 1; the French Revolution was still a century away; Dutch colonial and maritime power was at its height; and it was over 150 years before Charles Darwin was born.

Maria Merian was extraordinary for a number of reasons:

– As a female, she made her mark in a time that was dominated by men
– She was a superb artist and scientific illustrator
– She was a superb scientist – more correctly, she was an leader in entomology (the study of insects) at a time when insects were considered evil, and to ’emerge from mud’. She is perhaps the first person to document and illustrate the life cycle, and metamorphosis, of butterflies.
– In her 50’s, not only was awarded a grant by the city of Amsterdam (at that time only given to men) to travel to Surinam in Central America to document insects. She also travelled without a male chaperone, which was extradordianry for that time.

Enjoy the video below showing some of Merian’s work, set to stirring music by Handel.

Click this link for books on Maria Merian and her work. (Note: this is an affiliate link)

Incidently, if you like particular google doodles, you can purchase copies on different products through this link. (Note: this is an affiliate link)