My newly published Fruit: From the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection (Abbeville Press, 2022), now available here as well as from the usual sources, is a fusion of art, science and history in a 4.4” x 4.7” hardcover volume of 288 pages. The pocket-sized folio is like a miniature coffee table book, a celebration of fruit-growing in an earlier America with a wealth of historical context and scientific information. The first half of the book is devoted to a range of apple varieties, many with unfamiliar and quaint names; most of these cultivars now lost to time. Subsequent chapters cover pears and other pomes, stone fruits, citrus, berries and miscellaneous fruits such as avocados, pomegranates, persimmons and nuts.
Here are some details:
Between 1886 and 1942, the US Department of Agriculture employed a total of 20 artists, mostly women, to paint watercolors of various fruit varieties. The seventy-five hundred luscious watercolors were used for educational and promotional purposes. And they are beautiful.
I selected 250 of the watercolors for their beauty, historical interest, and/or quaintness, and compiled them into this tiny folio. Would you reach for a Peasgood Nonesuch or Peck’s Pleasant apple, a Neva Myss peach, or (dare one say it?) a Nun’s Thigh pear from a supermarket shelf?
In my introduction to the book and to each chapter, I unravel the history and development of the fruits in the world at large and in this country. (I have a special interest in this book, having done my doctoral research at the Fruit Laboratory of the US Department of Agriculture, right across the street from the National Agricultural Library, where the watercolors are stored.)
This little book is a cornucopia you can carry in the palm of your hand. You’ll be justifiably wowed by the unique beauty and number of different varieties grown in decades past.
Great gift idea!
Hardcover, 288 pages. – $12.95
There is an additional charge for shipping: $3.00 for the first book, plus $1 for each additional book. Buyers in New York State must also pay sales tax. These charges will be added during checkout.
For international orders, please contact me for shipping information.
Here’s a sampling of the illustrations: