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HomeCiderThe Ladies Who Painted the Apples of Our Eye – By Mark...

The Ladies Who Painted the Apples of Our Eye – By Mark A. Turdo

Alyse’s portray after Ellen Isham Schutt’s Shiawassee apple watercolor bought me curious in regards to the USDA’s pomological watercolor assortment. I used to be particularly curious in regards to the girls who created the overwhelming majority of the gathering.

You’ve in all probability seen the watercolors. Their colourful and accessible imagery proceed to make them common illustrations in apple and cider publications. Whereas the watercolors are acquainted, their origins and the artists are not often, if ever, talked about.

The watercolors have been an initiative of the USDA’s Division of Pomology (DoP), which was created in 1886. One in all division’s first duties was to discover a option to document details about the fruit and nuts which have been being grown in America and despatched to them for examine. In an age earlier than refrigeration and coloration pictures, artwork was the one option to seize and disseminate that info.

Between 1886 and 1942 twenty-one artists created 7,497 pictures.1 The primary few works have been pencil or pen and ink drawings. It wasn’t till 1888 that the now-recognizable format was created, which included inside and exterior watercolor views of the fruit surrounded by a border on (roughly) 6.69 inch by 9.84 inch paper. A 12 months later, the DoP employed the primary girl, Deborah Griscom Passmore. By the point the undertaking resulted in 1942, ten of the twenty-one illustrators employed by the division had been girls. Collectively they produced 5,873 watercolors.2

Beneath is a sketch of every girl’s work, together with one watercolor, her title, life dates, hyperlink to a biography (when accessible), variety of watercolors created, a hyperlink to her assortment of watercolors, and her tenure on the DoP. The record is so as of every girl’s begin date with the division.3

As you’ll see, lots of their tenures overlapped. It might be curious to know in the event that they ever labored collectively and impressed one another? What we do know is their work continues to show and encourage us at this time.


1. The gathering additionally contains 87 line drawings and 79 wax fashions.

2. The 7,497 watercolors don’t seize 7,497 fruits and nuts. Typically the identical fruit or nut was painted by totally different artists or a number of variations of 1 have been performed by the identical artist. For instance, see these Northern Spy watercolors.

3. The numbers and dates are from my assessment of the net assortment.

Additional Studying

USDA Pomological Watercolor Assortment (full and free)

“Assortment Profile: Pomological Watercolor Assortment” (Celebrating Analysis weblog)

An Illustrated Catalog of American Fruits & Nuts: The U.S. Division of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Assortment, by Jacqueline Landy, John McPhee, Michael Pollan, Marina Vitaglione, & Adam Leith Gollner

Heirloom Fruits of America: Alternatives from the USDA Watercolor Pomological Assortment, by Daniel J. Kevles



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