Friday, March 11, 2011

Apples on the Web: Watercolors from Abernathy to Zoar

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture commissioned thousands of watercolor paintings of fruit varieties, including more than 3,000 apples.

Most of these have never been published, but the USDA's National Agricultural Library has put thousands of these apple images online.

The varieties depicted were all introduced between 1886 and 1900; new-fangled then, heirlooms today.

The accompanying image of Cantrel was rendered by William Henry Prestele in 1894, blemishes and all. These painting were functional as well as pleasing.

Today they comprise the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection. Other fruits in the collection include those of berry, pear, citrus, and stone-fruit cultivars.

A short (but colorful) overview is archived here; today you can find all the images by searching the collection (which includes more than just apples) for "malus."

Update: Last paragraph edited to reflect changes in the USDA's database of images.

Second Update: Further revised in 2015 to reflect further changes to the database.

1 comment:

  1. Those are gorgeous! Wish I could order prints to hang in my kitchen! Thanks for sharing.


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