There are two new exhibitions at The Queen’s Gallery inside Buckingham Palace – Maria Merian’s Butterflies, and Scottish Artists 1750-1900: From Caledonia to the Continent. Maria Merian was a German artist and entomologist who devoted much of her life towards natural illustrations and paintings. After 8 years studying painting she was awarded a grant in 1699 by the city of Amsterdam, to travel to South America (Suriname) with her daughter. It was there where she spent two years furthering her knowledge of plants and animals, through observation and studying the ones she encountered.
Maria’s aim was to understand the various stages of life of insects – something that was not very well understood at the time. Her studies led to publish her work in a luxury volume book, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (the Metamorphosis of the Insects of Suriname), which brought the wonders of Suriname to Europe.
Maria Merian’s Butterflies is an exhibition that tells her story through her works in the Royal Collection. Many are luxury versions of the plates of the Metamorphosis, partially printed and partially hand painted onto vellum by the artist herself. It has been over three hundred years since they were made and the public display of her work celebrates a woman whose story holds a lasting appeal.
Scottish Artists presents an exhibition showing various paintings, drawings and miniatures collected by monarchs from George III to Queen Victoria. It celebrates the works of Scottish born travellers Allan Ramsay and Sir David Wilkie, and of Alexander Nasmyth and James Giles. Alexander was known for landscape painting and portraits. He is said to have inspired an entire generation about the importance of drawing as a tool when he had set up a drawing school. James Giles is famous for painting landscape and could name Queen Victoria amongst his list of admirers. She commissioned and purchased several of his landscapes. As did members of the Scottish aristocracy.
Both exhibitions are currently open to the public at Buckingham Palace and run until October. They both offer a fascinating look into our wonderful history of arts and the understanding of the human mind.