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

Hannah Rothstein, National Parks 2050

Artist's WPA-Style Works of National Parks Imagine Effects of Climate Change in 2050

  • April 27, 2017 14:58

Berkeley-based artist Hannah Rothstein has created a series of vintage-style posters illustrating ...

Read More

Scene of Adolfo Pinto (pt)’s Family by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior (1891)

IBM Watson Becomes Museum Guide

  • April 19, 2017 13:19

Museum visitors can now talk to artificial intelligence and get real-time answers about the ...

Read More

A fake Rothko painting that Sotheby's chairman Domenico De Sole and his wife bought at Knoedler and settled over in another claim against the gallery and its former director Ann Freedman.

Lawsuit Settled Against Art Historian in Knoedler Case

  • April 12, 2017 22:21

One of ten lawsuits filed against now-defunct Knoedler gallery in New York has been settled out ...

Read More

Evin House of Detention in Tehran

Tehran Gallerists Charged With Attempting to Overthrow Government

  • April 12, 2017 22:21

The owners of Tehran’s Aun Gallery, Iranian-American Karan Vafadari and his wife Afarin Niasari, ...

Read More

Related Press Releases

Related Events from ArtfixDaily Calendar

 

ArtfixDaily Artwire