It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Priceless but little known legacy…

Beginning in 1887, the USDA employed about 50 skilled artists to document newly introduced fruit cultivars. Some of these illustrations were reproduced in USDA publications, but most have never been published. The digital USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection includes more than 7,700 drawings of fruit and nut specimens.
About half of these illustrations depict apples, and the remainder represents many common and uncommon fruits of that time. In addition to the beautiful fruit artwork the collection also includes drawings of many fruit diseases, symptoms of nutrient deficiencies and storage disorders.
One of the prolific artists was Amanda A. Newton, granddaughter of Isaac Newton, not the physicist developer of the laws of motion but the nations first Commissioner of Agriculture appointed by President Lincoln.
USDA possess many special historical collections and most of them are digitized and available for the public to view. (Higher resolution JPEGs are available by request.)
(The image Garcinia mangostana mangosteen, Specimen No.: 83862, USDA Artist: Newton, Watercolor Date: 1915.)

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