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press releases and announcements

March 1 Opening of Prestele Exhibit Brings Botanical Feast for the Eyes
by Susan Fugate, National Agricultural Library
(As originally submitted for publication in the Beltsville News March 2006.)

Zangi watercolorWinter blues are already giving way to the hues of Spring and Summer at USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) in Beltsville, with the March 1 opening of a significant exhibition of botanical art, Inspiration and Translation: Botanical and Horticultural Lithographs of Joseph Prestele and Sons.

The 112-piece exhibition features original watercolors and lithographic prints of Joseph Prestele and his sons, plus an array of other items which document the family’s work for botanists and horticulturalists of the late 1800s. A catalog of the exhibition is for sale at the NAL. The exhibition is in the NAL’s first floor reading room and open weekdays, except Federal holidays, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., March 1 through May 31, 2006.

Joseph Prestele (1796-1867), a botanical painter and master lithographer, immigrated to the US from Bavaria in the 1840s. His sons—Joseph Jr., Gottlieb, and William Henry—became botanical artists. William Henry Prestele (1838-1895) was the first botanical artist hired by United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Division of Pomology in 1887. The Prestele family produced botanical illustrations for USDA and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as for the nursery and seed trade. The watercolors and lithographs are highest-quality scientific illustrations, but also a fine form of art.

The exhibition is the result of NAL collaboration with the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. The exhibition draws from the collections of both institutions, as well as the Smithsonian Institution, and includes items from the Amana Heritage Society and Prestele descendent Marcelee Konish. Before coming to the NAL, the exhibition opened at the Hunt Institute in Pittsburgh, PA in September 2005.

The National Agricultural Library is located at 10301 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD. If you would like to learn more about the Prestele exhibition and similar collections, visit the NAL special collections Web site ( Tours and presentations about the Prestele exhibition may be arranged through NAL special collections by calling 301.504.6503 or via email to

If you would like to learn more about agricultural information, you are most welcome to visit the Library virtually, via, or in person Monday-Friday, except Federal holidays, from 8:30-4:30. Tours and presentations about the library may be arranged through the Public Affairs office by calling 301 504 6778.

Last Modified: Oct 31, 2012
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