Eighteenth-Century Easter Bunny at Winterthur

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on April 22, 2011

From ArtDaily:

Eighteenth-Century Drawing of an Easter Rabbit
Winterthur Museum, 21 April — 8 May 2011

Attributed to Johann Conrad Gilbert, "Easter Rabbit," second half of the eighteenth century (Winterthur Museum)

Winterthur Museum recently acquired one of the earliest known American depictions of the Easter Bunny, which was sold at Pook & Pook auction house in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Together with the Christmas tree, the custom of the Easter rabbit and colored eggs was brought to America by immigrants from southwestern Germany in the 1700s, and has become a favorite American tradition. This delightful image is attributed to schoolmaster Johann Conrad Gilbert (1734–1812), who emigrated from Germany in 1757 and ultimately settled in Berks County, Pennsylvania. He likely made the drawing as a gift for one of his students. A similar drawing, also attributed to Gilbert, is in the collection of
Colonial Williamsburg.

These drawings are examples of a Pennsylvania German tradition of decorated manuscripts known as fraktur, which include birth and baptismal certificates, family records, writing samples, and bookplates. Lisa Minardi, a fraktur expert and assistant curator of the museum’s current exhibition, Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725–1850, notes, “The Easter rabbit drawing is one of the rarest of all fraktur, with only two examples known, and is a major addition to Winterthur ’s collection.” “This important acquisition allows Winterthur to document the Germanic beginnings of a beloved American tradition,” adds J. Thomas Savage, Winterthur ’s director of museum affairs.

The full article at ArtDaily is available here»

Furniture Exhibition at Winterthur: ‘Paint, Pattern, and People’

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 22, 2011

Press release from Winterthur:

Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725-1850
Winterthur, 2 April 2011 — 8 January 2012

Curated by Wendy Cooper and Lisa Minardi

ISBN: 9780912724690, $55

This landmark exhibition explores the colorful furniture of southeastern Pennsylvania along with the people who made, owned, inherited, and collected it. Featuring nearly 200 objects—including furniture, fraktur, needlework, and paintings—the show focuses on the culture and creativity of the area’s English- and German-speaking inhabitants. Paint, Pattern & People sheds new light on southeastern Pennsylvania’s highly distinctive local expressions of furniture and presents important objects for which the maker or family history is known. This well-documented furniture provides a new context to understand the objects as fully as possible and place them within specific locations. Although the exhibition is about furniture, it is not about dovetails and glue blocks but rather the people of the region who are the threads from which the story is woven. Thus the furniture in Paint, Pattern & People is the vehicle that transports us into the lives of our ancestors and leads to a greater understanding of our rich cultural heritage.

Due to William Penn’s policy of religious tolerance that attracted people of various faiths and ethnic backgrounds, Pennsylvania was the most culturally diverse of the thirteen colonies. Through the study of objects produced by this great mixed multitude, the extraordinary vibrance and variety of the region’s furniture comes into focus. Ethnicity, religious affiliation, personal taste, socioeconomic status, and the skill of the craftsman all influenced local forms, ornamentation, and construction. (more…)