Discover high-resolution vintage fruit and vegetable prints from Charlotte M. Yonge’s classic collection. Perfect for home decor and art enthusiasts.
Have you ever stumbled upon something so beautiful from the past that it feels like discovering a hidden treasure? That’s exactly how I felt when I came across “The Instructive Picture Book, or Lessons from the Vegetable World” by the talented Charlotte M. Yonge. And guess what? I’m sharing this treasure with all of you!
Who Was Charlotte M. Yonge?
Born in Hampshire, England, in 1823, Charlotte was a writer, storyteller, and educator with a keen eye for detail. Her love for the vegetable kingdom shines through in this book, where she’s illustrated a delightful range of plants from the vegetable kingdom.
“The Instructive Picture Book” is quite different from her usual work. While she’s best known as a novelist, this venture into botanical illustrations shows a unique side of her creativity, stepping away from the storytelling she’s famous for.
Charlotte was not just a prolific writer but also a generous soul. She donated the royalties from her best-selling novel, “The Heir of Redclyffe,” to the construction of a mission church in the village of Eastleigh, near her home.
More Than Just Illustrations: Botanical Artistry
These aren’t just any old drawings. They’re detailed botanical prints that capture the very essence of each plant. Think of them as the art prints of the 19th century. And for those who have a soft spot for vintage fruit? You’re in for a treat too!
The book isn’t just about vegetables we eat but the it covers the whole plant world including flowers and fruit. Illustrated by this quote from the book.
“Most children begin by thinking that flowers are not vegetables and that vegetables are not flowers, but only those leaves, roots or fruits which we eat with our meat. But we have found that both alike belong to the vegetable world, and if the gardener lets his plants run to seed, you can soon be convinced that the kitchen garden contains flowers, almost as pretty as if they were grown for ornament.”
Many vintage botanical prints on the site cover various vegetables and fruits, such as the Adolphe Millot posters and the beautiful watercolour fruits from the pomological collection. But I just had to feature these vintage fruit and vegetable illustrations as I thought they would make fantastic wall art for home decor.
To download a high-quality print, click on the title above that print, and a higher-resolution image will open in a new tab for you to save or print. They are all in the Public Domain, so copyright-free.
Prints 1-5 Overview and Seasonal Flowers
Before we get to the vintage fruit and vegetable prints, there are some lovely seasonal floral illustrations in the book.
“Vegetables have been divided into several great classes, and the first plate gives examples of each of these.“
From lichen to oak.
“No sooner has the soft south wind begun to breathe warmly upon the hard frosty ground, than the vegetable world begins to wake from the winter sleep“
A beautiful print of the most popular spring flowers from vibrant yellow daffodils spring crocus’s.
“Summer brings such a host of delightful blossoms that it is hard to choose between them. The vegetable world is in the full flush of beauty, each plant fed by the dew, and led on by the sunbeams to put forth all their glory.”
From a beautiful pink rose to fragrant honeysuckle.
“In Autumn, most plants are laying aside their gay robes for the more serious business of exposing their seed to the fostering sunshine, that it may be ripened before the winter frost.“
Check out these other vintage sunflower drawings.
“In winter, we are grateful to any blossoms that will shew a cheerful face in the time of snow and frost, and thus we greet as friends.“
Prints 6-8 Vintage Vegetable Prints
Cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, carrots, radish and beetroot.
“We of the human kind are the only creatures, except bears, who need to live on both meat and vegetables and have teeth fit for both kinds of food.“
“Of all our Garden plants, none is so precious to us as one only known in Europe for the last 300 years, and one which in spite of its valuable properties, is very nearly related to poisons. Few of us like to dine without the round, mealy, floury POTATO.“
Celery, onions, asparagus and potatoes.
“It is the leaf stalk of the RHUBARB that furnishes the earliest tarts and puddings of the spring. The Rhubarb is a large African dock, and most children know the sharp pleasant taste of the stem or leaf stalk of the little red wild sorrel or dock, sometimes called Cuckoo’s Bread and Cheese.“
Artichoke, rhubarb, peas and beans.
Prints 9-11 Economy Vegetable World Plants
“Many plants, though not directly used as food, are exceedingly valuable, either as ingredients in the preparation of food, as medicine, or as clothing.“
Hops, teasel, poppy and chicory.
Hemp: “When ripe, it is pulled up, the stems are stripped, and put into water to rot away the surrounding part from the tough fibres. It is afterwards beaten with hammers into soft fibrous tow, and then combed out and spun into threads, which are sold either to rope makers or to canvass makers.“
Hemp, mustard, lavender and canary.
“The BULRUSH in the plate, is cut by chair makers to form the seats of chairs, as it is both springy and strong enough to take a good deal of wear, and it is also used by coop¬ ers, who put it at the seams of their casks, to fill up the space which they allow for the swelling which is sure to take place when the wood is wetted.”
Flax, cotton, coriander and bulrush.
Prints 12- 15 Forage or Field Plant Prints
“Green herb not only grows up for the service of men, but it is the provision of great multitudes of cattle; all those animals which we use either for our food or for carrying burthens lire upon grass and the small plants which grow up in the midst of it, and are full of the sweet fresh taste that they lore.”
“To the grass kind we owe our bread, our beer, our sugar, our rice, the thatch of our houses, the food and the bed of our cattle, nay if all the grasses which clothe our hills and valleys were suddenly taken away, man and beast would both alike be wretched indeed.“
“The MAIZE is the largest and handsomest of all the grains. The plant is sometimes six or eight feet high, with immense flag-like leaves, tinted with a ruddy colour.“
Prints 16-20 Fungi & Fruits Vintage Prints
“The handsomest and most developed of the fungus tribe are the AGARICS – the MUSHROOMS or TOADSTOOLS. They spring up from a cobwebby sub¬ stance, raising at first a little round knob, within which the stalk is gradually formed.“
“Fruits are really an enlargement of the germ or receptacle which becomes fleshy or pulpy and is filled with water, sugar, albumen, and acid, which are if left to themselves, intended to serve for the nourishment of the seeds.“
Cucumber and melon.
Plum, peach, apple and apricot.
Quince, pear and grapes
Other Botanical Posts
There are more vintage fruit and vegetable prints from Mrs Beaton’s famous cookbook.
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