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“Thoreau’s Wild Fruits”: Paintings inspired by Henry David Thoreau

From Thoreau’s last manuscript, Wild Fruits, edited by Bradley P. Dean

 

“The dense oval bunches of the arum berries, turning from green to scarlet, now startle the walker in swamps and on moist banks. It is one of the most remarkable and dazzling, if not the handsomest, fruits that we have.”-Henry David Thoreau.

It was this engaging passage, and so many like it, which inspired me to create a body of botanical art work entitled “Thoreau’s Wild Fruits”. Wild Fruits is a series of chronological observations and musings by Thoreau on the fruits of his native New England. This, his last manuscript, begins in the autumn of 1859, but his observations really began at least a decade before that. He was awestruck by the beauty of the “fruits” and found them to far surpass those of foreign lands, saying “Better for us is the wild strawberry than the pine-apple, the wild apple than the orange, the chestnut and pignut than the cocoa-nut and almond, and not on account of their flavor merely, but the part they play in our education”.  

The botanical watercolors and pen and ink drawings, complemented by quotes from Thoreau’s manuscript, bring a visual aspect to his vivid and precise passages. The photography by Art Donahue further captures the travels and explorations of this great writer, naturalist and philosopher.  Visit our exhibit at the Concord Art Association from October 1-31, 2013, Concord, Massachusetts.

-Nancy Savage