Like Maria Sibylla Merian’s stepfather, Jacob Marrel, Merian’s daughter Johanna Helena Herolt was fascinated by tulips. Marrel worked as an artist during the tulip mania of the Dutch Golden Era. Tulip bulbs took two years to grow and bloom, yet just 10 bulbs of rare tulip varieties, such as Semper augustus, were worth more than a house. Even in the early 18th century, when tulip buds no longer sold for such vast sums, Herolt found a use for them: in this piece she places the blooms with irises in an arrangement that also brings to the fore their associated insects. Herolt was born into a family of artists, which included not only Marrel and Merian, but her father and sister as well. Some of her pieces echo their style but she also had her own approach, and her eye for striking combinations of flowers made her work starkly unique. This uncommon painting depicts two Rembrandt tulips, along with one single and one double iris.

Following her mother’s style, Herolt includes the stages of insect metamorphosis in her watercolor and body color paintings. However, Herolt’s unique talent adds further prestige to an astonishing body of work from a family of distinguished and pioneering artists.


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