Maria Sibylla was born in Frankfurt, the daughter of an engraver and publisher. Her father died when she was three years old, and her mother remarried to Jakob Marrel. a the flower and still life painter. He encouraged Maria Sibylla to draw and paint. In 1665, she married Marrel's apprentice, Johann Andreas Graff. The family moved to Nuremberg, where Maria Sibylla continued painting and gave drawing lessons to the daughters of wealthy families. This activity provided her with access to the finest gardens of the wealthy elite. She published Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung und sonderbare Blumennahrung (The Caterpillars' Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food), written in vernacular German. In 1699–1705, she visited the colony of Surinam in Dutch Guiana with her daughter Dorothea Marrel. There she studied local insect species and their fruit diet, which led to the publication of Metamorphosis insectorum surinamensium (1705). After her mother's death in Amsterdam in 1717, Dorothea published Erucarum Ortus Alimentum et Paradoxa Metamorphosis, a collection of her mother's work.