Washington Post Article about the US Agriculture Department Paintings of Fruits and Nuts


Malus domestica, Black Apple or Indiana Favorite, watercolor by Elsie Lower (born 1882), 1904. Geographic location: La Grange County, Indiana. U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705
Malus domestica, Black Apple or Indiana Favorite, watercolor by Elsie Lower (born 1882), 1904. Geographic location: La Grange County, Indiana. U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705

The Washington Post has a wonderful article today by art critic Sebastian Smee, entitled These U.S. Agriculture Department paintings of fruits and nuts are actually stunning (click here to read).


An Illustrated Catalog of American Fruits & Nuts: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection by Jacqueline Landy, John McPhee, Michael Pollan, Marina Vitaglione, and Adam Leith Gollner is available for purchase of course.


These spectacular images also are available online through the USDA National Agricultural Library website (click here to view). The website has 7,584 high-resolution watercolors to be examined in depth on the website or available for free download. The catalog includes 3,807 images of apples alone! Twenty-one artists were commissioned by the USDA from 1886 – 1942 to paint these fruit and nut cultivars developed by farmers or introduced to the United States by plant explorers.


The website has a search function that allows the viewer to search by artist, scientific plant name, or common names. Sebastian Smee is right—the artwork is spectacular.

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