Vegetables in a Bowl or The Gardener, Arcimboldo, 1590s.

Just throwing this out there.

Has there been an attempt to track the meandering flow of selective breeding of fruits, vegetables and flowers by using still life paintings since the Renaissance? Are any vegetables significantly different in say, these face illusions by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (~1526-1593) than they would appear now?

According to the Carrot Museum, orange carrots were not bred into existence until the 1700s: are those some sort of pale variants of the original purple or yellow making up The Gardener's beard, above?

(Digression: the World Carrot Museum is a website full of fascinating history. Best visited with a bowl of hearty carrot ginger soup and plenty of time to enjoy the stories.)

I think Arcimboldo's paintings could be wonderful examples to show how differences created by selective breeding can produce drastic, vigorous changes. Instructive, perhaps, for people unsure about GMOs and maintaining a diet of "all-natural" veggies or people dubious by modern cross-breeding. Changes now can now be potentially more targeted, and more rapid, but few vegetables on our table resemble their wild ancestors.

Too bad Arcimboldo never lived long enough to incorporate brusselkale or broccoflower into his portraits.

 

Rudolf II of Habsburg as Vertumnus, Arcimboldo, 1590.

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