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

William Langenheim (American, born Germany, Schöningen 1807-1874) and Frederick Langenheim (American, born Germany, Schöningen 1809-1879), Eclipse of the Sun, 1854, Daguerreotype.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005.

A Peek at Rare 1854 Solar Eclipse Images, and a Full Look at the Friedman Collection of Photography

  • August 17, 2017 14:12

The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns the only surviving images of the solar eclipse that occurred ...

Read More

Sandycombe Lodge, 1814, W.  B.  Cooke after William Havell - Tate Britain.

After $3.5 Million Renovation, JMW Turner's Picturesque Cottage Opens to Visitors

  • August 16, 2017 20:21

In 1813 England’s great landscape painter JMW Turner built a small villa, Sandycombe Lodge, on a ...

Read More

Staff members evaluate the recovered de Kooning.

Stolen De Kooning Painting Returned to Museum After 3 Decades

  • August 15, 2017 12:55

A Willem de Kooning painting that had been stolen more than 31 years ago from the University of ...

Read More

Leonardo DiCaprio to Play Da Vinci in Film Adaptation of Walter Isaacson Book

  • August 14, 2017 22:59

Paramount won a seven-figure bidding battle against Universal for the film rights to the latest ...

Read More

Related Press Releases

Related Events from ArtfixDaily Calendar

 

ArtfixDaily Artwire