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Seen right is the portrait from a copy of the 1713-17 first Dutch edition of her famous study of caterpillars and their transformations into butterflies in which the 150 plates are in the very rare counterproof form, coloured up in gouache (probably by Maria and her daughters) to more closely resemble the originals, that brought a trade bid of £150,000 at Bonhams on July 15.

The first two parts had been published in Nuremberg in 1679 and 1683 before Merian completed and herself translated the work into Dutch. A copy of that 1679 first volume with its 50 coloured plates was seen at Sotheby's New York, but failed to sell on an estimate of $70,000-100,000.

There was, however, a successful bid of $45,000 (£24,455) in New York on a 1726 third edition of her Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium with its 72 coloured plates.