Winterthur Museum acquires one of the earliest known American depictions of the Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny Fraktur, attributed to Johann Conrad Gilbert (1734–1812).
Easter Bunny Fraktur, attributed to Johann Conrad Gilbert (1734–1812).
(Winterthur)

Delaware's 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 drawing will be on view in the museum Galleries starting Friday, April 22. It will remain on display through the Easter holiday and Mother’s Day, when it will be taken down and treated by the museum’s conservation staff to remove dirt and grime from the paper. Ultimately, it will be placed on long-term view in the museum’s renowned Fraktur Room, where it will join about two dozen other examples of Pennsylvania German fraktur art.

More News Feed Headlines

View of Timbuktu, Heinrich Barth (1858)

Militant Who Destroyed Cultural Sites Pleads Guilty in War-Crimes Trial

  • August 23, 2016 22:25

A Malian Islamist militant who led the 2012 destruction of cultural heritage sites and ancient ...

Read More

Snøhetta expansion of SFMOMA.  © Henrik Kam, courtesy of SFMOMA.

Digging Into the SFMOMA Deal with the Fisher Family

  • August 23, 2016 00:00

San Francisco Chronicle's Charles Desmarais reports on the Fisher Collection of contemporary art ...

Read More

Detail of Lucas Cranach the Elder's Eve (circa 1530).  Image: Norton Simon Museum

Judge Rules For Norton Simon Museum To Keep Cranach Paintings

  • August 18, 2016 16:30

A U.S. District Court judge ruled this week that Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum legally owns ...

Read More

Freud and Bacon photographed by Harry Diamond

Sebastian Smee's The Art of Rivalry Covers Riveting Relationships of Modern Masters

  • August 15, 2016 20:53

The Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize winning art critic Sebastian Smee has penned a spellbinding ...

Read More

Related Press Releases

Related Events from ArtfixDaily Calendar

 

ArtfixDaily Artwire