Art

The Soothing, Spellbinding Beauty of Vintage Fruit Watercolors

May 16, 2017

I don’t know if you’re aware of “old fruit pictures,” the Twitter bot that tweets under the handle of @pomological, but I’ve just recently fallen under its spell. This account injects a dose of pleasure into my Twitter feed, which can often feel like an endless sea of agony.

The bot, begun by Parker Higgins, combs the USDA’s Pomological Watercolor Collection, which is filled with over 8,000 watercolors, lithographs, and line drawings made between 1886 and 1942. There are marvelously detailed renderings of any fruit you can imagine, from diseased lemons to Kelbolan plums to Kalamazoo peaches, in various states of ripeness and decay. The collection boasts nearly 4,000 images of apples alone.

The bot has been tweeting since May 2015, so I’m a bit perplexed as to how it hasn’t even passed the 10,000-follower benchmark yet. The world should know about it. I hate to publicly declare my crushes, but, @pomological, I’m obsessed with you.

Go ahead and give @pomological a follow—or just scroll endlessly.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.

5 Comments

Meher M. May 26, 2017
On it! Such glorious art!
 
luciejoy May 19, 2017
Splendid. I joined Twitter just to be able to follow.
 
AJ K. May 17, 2017
Thank you so much for this. I've always loved these type of classic fruit and veggie paintings but did not have a good recent source for them.
 
Whiteantlers May 16, 2017
Beautiful!
 
Kate K. May 16, 2017
Thank you for this, particularly the link to the Wikimedia collection!