Fall Illustrations: 19th Century Autumn Leaves and Scenery

Vintage pumpkin illustration from a 19th century postcard in the public domain

Happy Sunday!

I just got back from Thacher park, and yep, the fall colors were definitely awesome.

The New York State Library also has some neat autumn images of their own. These fall illustrations come from the library’s public domain collection and span the 19th century.

I cleaned these images up in Pixlr but you can find the originals under the ‘autumn’ and ‘fall leaves’ tags in the NYPL database.

A 19th century fall illustration of a house on a lake in autumn - public domain

Why Do the Leaves Change in Fall?

Good question!

Here’s what National Geographic has to say about it:

Evergreen trees, for example, are coniferous, so they have a protective waxy coating on their leaves which protects them during winter. Deciduous trees like birch and maple don’t have that protective coating, so they shed their leaves in fall.

Fall illustrations of autumn leaves in the public domain

But What Makes Them Change Color?

Before deciduous trees shed their leaves, they have to pull whatever nutrients they can, like nitrogen.

During this time, leaves also slow down photosynthesis and chlorophyll production (which is responsible for that leafy green color.) This gives carotenoids their time to shine, as these are the natural warm-colored pigments hiding beneath chlorophyll.

The process of recouping more nitrogen and phosphorus, coupled with the slowing down of photosynthesis, is what creates the beautiful fall colors we know and love.

More Free Resources for Fall

Need ideas for fall? Check out the links below!

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