Atelier Editions, 2021. Hardcover, 356 pp., 8 x 11 inches
The United States Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection encompasses 7,497 botanical watercolor paintings of evolving fruit and nut varieties, alongside specimens introduced by USDA plant explorers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Assembled between 1886 and 1942, the collection's remarkable, botanically accurate watercolors were executed by some 21 professional artists (including nine women). Authored largely before the widespread application of photography, the watercolors were intended to aid accurate identification and examination of fruit varietals, for the nation’s fruit growers.
Documenting the transformation of American pomology, the science of fruit breeding and production, and the horticultural innovations accountable for contemporary fruit cultivation and consumption, the USDA’s collection offers fascinating anthropological and horticultural insights concerning the fruits we ecstatically devour, and why.
With an abundance of reproductions from the collection, this gorgeous volume encompasses fruit-suffused anecdotes and observations drawn from the fields of archaeology and anthropology, horticulture and literature, ancient representation and contemporary visual art. It includes contributions by authors Jacqueline Landy, John McPhee, Michael Pollan and Marina Vitaglione.