Cornucopias: Heralding Nature’s Bounty in Many Forms

From my earliest days of coloring school worksheets, cornucopias are the symbol I associate with the harvest season and the Thanksgiving holiday many Americans will be celebrating this week. Also known as the “horn of plenty,” the typical representation features vegetables and fruits spilling forth in abundance. In searching the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, however, I was interested to find references to cornucopias featuring a variety of contents, satirical and otherwise.

My favorite is this beautiful, nineteenth-century watercolor that heralds what nature has to offer beyond the edible category.

Cornucopia of flowers. Watercolor, between 1820 and 1890. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.22946

Cornucopia of flowers. Watercolor, between 1820 and 1890. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.22946

And, as a native Californian, I was amused by this human cornucopia (minus the horn). A group of young women exhibited the fashion potential of nature’s bounty on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during an event to publicize California’s tempting produce and the potential benefits of a national highway.

California claims of being cornucopia demonstrated on Capitol steps. Washington, D.C., May 29... Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1939 May 29. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.26766

California claims of being cornucopia demonstrated on Capitol steps. Washington, D.C., May 29… Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1939 May 29. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/hec.26766

To stretch the metaphor a smidgen more: the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog is a virtual cornucopia of pictures that remind us to be thankful for all the gifts nature affords us. Happy Thanksgiving!

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