Orra White Hitchcock

Portrait of Orra White Hitchcock

Of Love and Mushrooms

The summer of 1816 was a sweet season for the 20 year old science teacher Orra White. Together with her partner Edward Hitchcock, the melancholy young principle of the Deerfield Academy where they both taught, Orra ventured out into the fields and woods outside Amherst Massachusetts to draw and paint. But while the Hudson River School artists depicted the vast sweep of sublime landscape, Orra was both artist and scientist, methodically collecting samples and capturing the small details that distinguished the Cypripedium pubescens from the Cypripedium humile. Her final volume of 175 ink and watercolor images she called “Herbarium parvum, pictum” was widely shared among leading botanists of the day—a collection both beautiful and useful.

Reed Enger, "Orra White Hitchcock, Of Love and Mushrooms," in Obelisk Art History, Published March 20, 2020; last modified March 20, 2020, http://arthistoryproject.com/artists/orra-white-hitchcock/.

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