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The Art of JAMA
September 25, 2013

Apples: Thomas Worthington Whittredge

JAMA. 2013;310(12):1210-1211. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.5327

The crisp air of approaching autumn in my childhood signaled apple-picking time. Harder-to-reach specimens compelled me to shinny up the tree and teeter on branches to grasp the glossy orbs, but such perils were eclipsed by the excitement of the harvest and the spicy tang of apple aroma. The shiny, exuberant fruit shown in Apples by American painter Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910) reflects this appreciation for objects in the natural world.

Given Whittredge’s modest beginnings in rural Ohio near Springfield, it was most unlikely that one of his works would someday find a home in the White House in Washington, DC. A brother-in-law in Cincinnati, a house and sign painter who later took up portrait and landscape painting, apprenticed Whittredge, who was ebullient about his future prospects: “Of course there is a gulf of many thousand miles between a housepainter and a painter of pictures, but somehow the gulf did not seem so wide to me at that time. I was told that I must begin at the bottom and I did.” (Janson AF. Worthington Whittredge. Cambridge, UK/New York & Port Chester, NY/Melbourne & Sydney, Australia: Cambridge University Press; 1989:13.)