A Study of a Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana)

Probably Macau or Canton, China, 18th-19th century

Watercolour on paper

47cm x 35cm

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A Study of a Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana)

The serpentine branches of a mangosteen tree and its glossy leaves with lime green undersides occupy most of the page. A pair of pink flowers with rounded petals and deep red tips appear in full bloom, while two more flowers are in bud. A lichen green fruit is immature while another of rich purple weights down the branch. A white succulent fruit has been painted beside its thick skin, illustrating the fragrant edible flesh that surrounds each seed.

Of Southeast Asian origin, mangosteen trees are now widely cultivated in the tropics. Frequently referred to as the ‘queen of fruits’ they are believed to be a cooling fruit that counterbalance the heating properties of the durian or the ‘king of fruits.’

Mangosteen trees proved popular subjects for illustration amongst European botanists. For a comparable illustration, see Magee, p. 49.


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.

A Study of a Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana)