“Water colors with wonderful fidelity to nature and with such delicacy of touch and such genuine artistic sense of color”

According to a letter to the Editor (extract presented below) of The Country Gentleman, from Mr. E. L. R. of Baltimore, Md:

Mr William Coxe was for several years a member of Congress from New Jersey but such was his fondness for pomology that notwithstanding the many demands upon his time in consequence of his political and other pursuits he still found leisure to collect materials for an enlarged and elegant edition of his work on Fruit Trees.

This unfortunately, he did not live to bring to perfection. It had been his intention that the second edition should have contained beautiful colored engravings to accompany the descriptions of each of the fruits mentioned in his book. For this purpose his daughter, Mrs McMurtrie still living in Philadelphia, and her accomplished sisters had prepared numerous accurate drawings of life size upon Bristol board of the fruits to be represented and then painted them in water colors with wonderful fidelity to nature and with such delicacy of touch and such genuine artistic sense of color that it is greatly to be regretted that these evidences of early American art have not seen the light in the form originally intended.

source: The Country Gentleman, Volume 9 via Google eBook

L. Tucker, 1857

A journal for the farm, the garden, and the fireside, devoted to improvement in agriculture, horticulture, and rural taste; to elevation in mental, moral, and social character, and the spread of useful knowledge and current news.
A bit about William Coxe:
William Coxe wrote the first book on American pomology, A View of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees, and the Management of Orchards and Cider published in 1817. This seminal work can be read online via google books and archive.org.
The watercolor pomological illustrations presented here are from an unpublished atlas of apples that is in manuscripts collection of USDA National Agricultural Library.

Collection Number: 44 Collection Name: Coxe, William, Manuscript

William Coxe also had a “national reputation for his cider, at an age when it was a famous and characteristic beverage this according to Proceedings of the State Horticultural Society at Its Annual Session, Volume 42 , New Jersey State Horticultural Society, 1917.
For all additional information on William Coxe published on this blog, look here.


2 Replies to ““Water colors with wonderful fidelity to nature and with such delicacy of touch and such genuine artistic sense of color””

  1. Some of these renderings were made by the daughters–I’m not sure how many. These are avail. for review in Special Collections at the NAL in Beltsville, MD. Copies are featured in Peter Hatch’s Fruits and Fruit Trees of Monticello–Albemarle Pippin being one of the most attractive. –Tim Hensley / Urban Homestead / Bristol, Va / http://www.oldvaapples.com


    1. I’ve updated the post and added links to the USDA National Agriculture Library so interested readers can explore further. The NAL collection description, and the 1857 letter in The Country Gentleman, suggest all the watercolors in the unpublished atlas were done by Wm. Coxe’s daughters, but neither offers more information. Thanks very much for mentioning Peter J. Hatch’s book Fruits and Fruit Trees of Monticello, will definitely take a look.


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