100-Year-Old Vegetables | The Reader's Guide Feature | Chicago Reader

100-Year-Old Vegetables 

Photos From a Trunk

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In 1981 Sean Sexton, a British photo collector, stumbled on an old trunk in a London antique market and made a lucky discovery. The trunk contained hundreds of photographs made from glass-plate negatives at the turn of the century. Two-thirds of them were of vegetables, the rest were of fruits and flowers. The images were arresting: the vegetables had been posed in isolation against solid backgrounds for highly detailed close-ups that looked strikingly modern. On the back of each picture was a penciled notation of the type of plant and the initials C.J. or the full name Charles Jones. Sexton learned that Jones was a gardener who was born in England in 1866 and died in 1952. During the 1890s, when it's believed most of the pictures were taken, he was working as a gardener at Ote Hall, a private estate in Sussex. He was married and had children, but not much else is known about his life or any other photographs he might have made. What led him to take these pictures--so original for their time--and where he gained the expertise to do it are mysteries. Fifty-eight Jones prints are on display in "Plant Kingdoms" at the Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road in Glencoe. The exhibit will be up through October 29; hours are 8 AM to sunset. Admission is free, but parking is $7 for nonmembers. Call 847-835-5440 for more information.

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Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
August 20
Performing Arts
October 02

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