JOHANNA HELENA HEROLT GRAFF (GERMAN, 1668 - AFTER 1702) Love-in-a-mist with a Lime Hawkmoth Watercolor

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JOHANNA HELENA HEROLT GRAFF (GERMAN, 1668 - AFTER 1702) Love-in-a-mist with a Lime Hawkmoth Watercolor and bodycolor on vellum Paper size 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in Frame size 15 1/2 x 13 1/4 in

JOHANNA HELENA HEROLT GRAFF (GERMAN, 1668 - AFTER 1702) 

This rich and delicate watercolor was created by Johanna Graffe, the eldest daughter and finest pupil of Maria Sibylla Merian. Merian is a remarkable figure among natural history artists. 

Raised in a family of artists, she took the unusual step of leaving her husband to join the Labadist religious sect in Holland. Already a successful and published illustrator of insects, she and her younger daughter, Dorothea, left Holland for Surinam in 1701, where he compiled hundreds of drawings of insects and flowers for her landmark Metamorphosis Insectorum Surnamensium. 

Poor health ultimately forced Merian to return to Europe during preparation for the second edition (1719) of this great work. Johanna took up Merian’s mantle, travelling to Surinam in 1717 to complete her mother’s proj- ect. The fine rendering, accomplished use of color and engaging baroque formalism of Johanna’s work bear the earmarks of her mother’s influence. Graffe’s superb drawings beautifully complemented the work of her famous parent. 

In the unique tradition of her mother, Graffe’s watercolor successfully marries scientific observation - the fine depiction of larval stages, for example - with a rich aesthetic experience.