Fruit trees and ancient fruits

Once upon a time there was pomology, the study of edible fruits. In the 19th century, magnificent books with painted illustrations described the varieties of known edible fruits, most of which had disappeared from the shelves.

From the 18th century onwards, a period of intense classification of objects of study in all fields began throughout the world: plants took part in this and the Angers collection presents works from the 19th and early 20th centuries on fruit trees of all species. J. Descaine's work entitled "The fruit garden of the Museum or iconographies of all the species and varieties of fruit trees cultivated in this establishment with their description, their history, their synonym, etc.” (Le jardin fruitier du Muséum ou iconographies de toutes les espèces et variétés d'arbres fruitiers cultivés dans cet établissement avec leur description, leur histoire, leur synonyme, etc.) remains one of the most remarkable works of its time in France. Dating from the 1870s and published by the Imprimerie Nationale in 7 volumes, it is illustrated with sumptuous drawings in the text, beautifully painted beside each descriptive and historical note for each variety... an incomparable work of art!

The “Pomology of cultivated fruits in France” (Pomologie des fruits cultivés en France, published in Lyon in 1868) is just as full of precious historical trivia: for example, we discover that an American variety of pear was delivered to France in 1855 after having been received from America in 1852 by the most famous horticulturist from Angers at the time, André Leroy: the Brandywine. Inquiring minds can find this variety in the 1921 "Pears of New York", where many French varieties rub shoulders with the "Doyenné d'Alençon", the "Comice", the "Duchesse d'Angoulême", the "Orléans", and even the "Beurrée d'Anjou".

But Europe is not left out, with a Dutch pomology, a description of the fruit trees of Belgium, as well as an interesting report by the Royal Society of Horticulture of Great Britain on the 3rd International Conference on Genetics organised in London in 1906, illustrated with a portrait of G. Mendel in the frontispiece, one of the founding fathers of modern genetics (1822-1884).

And finally, other works will spark your curiosity, such as "Notes on the variability of climates” (Notes sur la Variabilité des climats (1925)), an essay dating from 1801 by the famous Th. de Saussure on "Chemical research on vegetation” (Recherches chimiques sur la végétation), or yet a few others on cider apples.