A Study of a Star Fruit (Averrhoa carambola)
The thick branch with pinnate leaves of dark green, pale reds and light yellows occupies the space. The oval fruits have five prominent longitudinal ridges with smooth, waxy skin. The artist has depicted them in three different stages of development, with the flesh turning from pale green when unripe to yellowish-green when ripe. Amongst them, light purple flowers borne on a panicle display their elegant blossoms. A small dissection of the petals appears to the left of the branch, while to the right a cross section of the fruit reveals the star shape from which it derives its common name. Beside this the Chinese inscription yang tao (star fruit) appears, which resembles inscriptions appearing in works in the Reeves Collection.
The Averrhoa carambola tree has been cultivated in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia for hundreds of years and many parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine. Its name derives from the Marathi word karambal and verrhoa, named after Averrhoes (1126-1198), an Arabian philosopher and physician who translated the works of Aristotle.
For a comparable illustration see ‘Dollar Bird and Starfruit’, William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings, National Museum of Singapore, A.C. 1995-03233.
Dozier, L (ed.). Natural History Drawings, The Complete William Farquhar Collection, Malay Peninsula 1803-1818, Singapore, National Museum of Singapore, 2010.
Magee, J. Chinese Art and the Reeves Collection, Natural History Museum, London, 2013.
Noltie, H.J. Raffles Ark Redrawn: Natural History Drawings from the Collection of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, London, The British Library, 2012.
Welby Bailey, C.F. The Reeves Collection, an Investigation into Chinese Botanical Drawings, their Identification and Conservation. University of the Arts, London 2011.