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

Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads by Ai Weiwei, 2010

Auction Record for Ai Weiwei's Zodiac Heads in London

  • February 15, 2015 23:19

A near-billion-dollar two weeks of Impressionist, modern, post-war, and contemporary art sales ended in London with an auction record for Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

Read More

 "Boy and Girl Gazing at the Moon (Puppy Love)" by Norman Rockwell.

A Sweet Gift for the Norman Rockwell Museum

  • February 12, 2015 19:10

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., has announced a gift of one of the artist's most recognizable--and sweet--works.

Read More

A 1970 Cy Twombly "blackboard" painting sold for $30 million in London.

Cy Twombly Tops $178.4 Million Christie's Sale

  • February 12, 2015 19:09

One of Cy Twombly's scribbly "blackboard" works fetched $30 million to lead Christie's auction in London.

Read More

'Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1', a 1932 painting by Georgia O'Keeffe fetched a record price of $44.4 million at Sotheby's in fall 2014.

Buyer of Record-Setting Georgia O'Keeffe Revealed

  • February 11, 2015 22:20

After an iconic white flower painting ranked the work of Georgia O'Keeffe at the top of the market for any female artist, mystery shrouded the identity of the buyer.

Read More

Related Press Releases

Related Events from ArtfixDaily Calendar

ArtfixDaily Artwire