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).

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

Tony Tasset, Deer, 2015.  At Art Basel Miami Beach, Kavi Gupta.

Miami Art Week Organized with App

  • November 29, 2015 23:07

It's a whirlwind of activity from Dec. 1 to 6, so the modern and contemporary art mecca dubbed ...

Read More

Screenshot of the scroll on eBay

Scholar Finds 1,700-Year-Old Gospel Fragment on eBay, Starting at $99

  • November 27, 2015 23:22

Geoffrey Smith, an assistant professor of early Christianity at the University of Texas, was ...

Read More

Auckland Castle

Tiny English Town Chosen for Philanthropist's World-Class Spanish Art Collection

  • November 27, 2015 23:22

Philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer recently donated £25m to Auckland Castle, the historic home of the ...

Read More

Venice Biennale 2015

Over Half a Million Visitors Flocked to Venice Biennale in 2015; Next Year: Detroit Re-imagined at Architecture Pavilion

  • November 24, 2015 18:46

On November 22, 2015, the 56th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia chaired by ...

Read More

Related Press Releases

Related Events from ArtfixDaily Calendar

Holiday Gift Guide and December Preview - ARTFIXdaily

ArtfixDaily Artwire