An Aquatint of the Bartram House from 1913

May 10, 2016
Pete Prown

We have a print of the John Bartram House in our conference room and thought we’d find out more about it. Says Bartram’s Garden curator Joel Fry, “This is an aquatint printed in 1913 by Frederick William Härer, a Bucks County/New Hope-area artist best known as a frame maker for the group of Pennsylvania impressionists. What hangs in the conference room is a modern inkjet print from a scan of the original print. However, we own three copies of the original print, and one of them still has the original printed folder that enclosed the print when sold in 1913.”

F. W. Härer, folder cover for 4-plate aquatint, east facade of Bartram House, June 1913. Text from folder cover: "A View of the Bartram House. Built by John Bartram in 1731, on the lower Schuylkill, near Gibson's Point, Philadelphia. As it appeared in June 1913. An aquatint on four plates by F. W. Härer. Printed in Colours. For The Society of Raim Tuppani, Philadelphia, 1913." (cuneiform cartouche). Rear of folder: "One of seventy-five copies printed by Peters Brothers, Philadelphia." Signed below print at right in pencil: "F. W. Härer" Rear of print: marked in pencil at lower right corner "52" Folder size: 36.5 cm x 28.7 cm (off-white wove paper). Print size: 20.1 cm x 15.2 cm; paper sheet size: 35.5 cm x 28 cm JBA collections, unknown origin, JBA# P.2011.1

The cover folder has the artists title, and says 75 copies were printed for the “Society of Raim Tuppani.” This was an art club sponsored by the Pennsylvania Museum, ca. 1910-1920 (this was the original Pennsylvania Museum of Art, located at Memorial Hall).

Adds Joel, “The print is attractive for the coloring, but perhaps not a very accurate rendering of the house. Those large green shrubs in front of the house are old boxwood that have grown into trees. There was a row of boxwood in a line parallel to the front of the house, with a boxwood at each corner. In the Eastwick period they would have been small, short round balls, maybe two-feet tall. We know this because we own a number of photographs of the house from the same angle. I expect this aquatint might have been created from a photo, rather than an actual visit.”

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