Four botanical watercolors of William Henry Prestele.
Clockwise from top left: "Auburn" apple, "Zengi" persimmon, "Bourgeat" quince
and "Tucker" plum.
Click an image to
download a 300-dpi version of it in .zip format. Original images courtesy
National Agricultural Library.
Botanical Feast for the Eye: The Prestele
Carey February 27, 2006
Winter blues are already giving way to the hues of spring and summer
at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
National Agricultural Library (NAL) in
Beltsville, Md., with the March 1 opening of a significant exhibition of
botanical illustration art titled Inspiration and Translation: Botanical and
Horticultural Lithographs of Joseph Prestele and Sons.
The 112-piece exhibition features original watercolors and
lithographic prints by Joseph Prestele and sons, plus an array of other items
that document the family's work for botanists and horticulturalists of the late
1800s. A catalog of the exhibition is for sale at the NAL.
Joseph Prestele (1796-1867), a botanical painter and master
lithographer, immigrated to the United States from Bavaria in the 1840s. His
sonsJoseph Jr., Gottlieb and William Henryalso became botanical
artists. In fact, William Henry Prestele (1838-1895) was the first botanical
artist hired by the USDA's Division of Pomology, in 1887. The Prestele family
produced botanical illustrations for USDA and the Smithsonian Institution, as
well as for the nursery and seed trade. Their watercolors and lithographs are
highest-quality scientific illustrations, as well as fine art.
The exhibition is the result of an NAL collaboration with the
Hunt Institute for Botanical
Documentation at Carnegie Mellon
University in Pittsburgh, Pa. It draws from the collections of both
institutions, along with the Smithsonian, and also includes items from the
Amana Heritage Society and Prestele
descendent Marcelee Konish. Before arriving at the NAL, the exhibition opened
at the Hunt Institute in September 2005.
The National Agricultural Library is located at 10301 Baltimore Ave.,
Beltsville. The exhibition will be on view from March 1 through May 31 in the
first-floor reading room on weekdays, except federal holidays, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30
p.m. The NAL is the largest and most accessible agricultural library in the
world and is part of USDA's principal research agency, the
Agricultural Research Service.
To learn more about the Prestele exhibition and similar collections,
visit the NAL Special
Collections Unit website. Tours and presentations about the Prestele
exhibition may be arranged through NAL's Special Collections Unit by calling
(301) 504-6503, or via email to email@example.com.