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In Beltsville, Maryland, at the National Agricultural Library, in the Rare & Special Collections, you will find the amazing United States Department of Agriculture’s Pomological Watercolor Collection.

It holds art made for the Department between 1886 and 1942 (much viewable online). This collection contains USDA-produced art that was used in publications illustrating advances in fruit breeding and production (pomology) for the benefit of American growers.

In those days, botanical illustration was a relatively socially acceptable way for women to participate in science. Not only have work, agriculture, and art industries changed for women, but so has the strawberry itself.  The illustrations note a darker, smaller berry with perhaps much less detail than we see in botanical illustration today, as shown recently in Slate.   Thank you to Amanda Newton’s 1916 rendering above, which allows us a peak into history and process.

art & agriculture: shauna lee lange.  we’re exploring the intersections of art, agriculture, agritourism, and agrarian systems.  941/875.5190.

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