National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION

Tour: Pennsylvania German Folk Art from the Index of American Design

Overview | Start Tour

image of Pennsylvania German Candle Box image of Pennsylvania German Chest image of Dower Chest
13 14 15
image of Adam and Eve image of Owl image of Pensylvania German Carved Bird
16 17 18
« back to Index of American Design


Pennsylvania German art is a distinctive folk style transplanted by European immigrants who settled in southeastern Pennsylvania. Characterized by the bold use of color and motifs that emphasize birds, flowers, and elaborate decoration, Pennsylvania German art was nurtured on the isolated farms where those settlers made their homes. Beginning in the late seventeenth century, immigrants from Switzerland, the Palatinate, and the Upper Rhine regions of Germany arrived in Pennsylvania. For the most part, they were peasants, small farmers, and artisans. The Pennsylvania Germans were industrious people; they cleared the heavily wooded lands and tilled the soil to establish a new life in America. Agriculture was the major industry, but as society became more firmly rooted, farmer-craftsmen turned some of their energies to producing and decorating the many articles of daily life. By isolating themselves from outside influences, the Pennsylvania Germans were not assimilated into the mainstream of American culture until this century. Thus, for over two hundred years, Pennsylvania German art flourished to become an important element of the American folk art tradition.


1Aaron Fastovsky, Pennsylvania German Plate, c. 1940
2Eugene Shellady, Pennsylvania German Plate, 1938
3Albert Levone, Pennsylvania German Dish, c. 1936
4Henry Moran, Pennsylvania German Covered Jar, c. 1939
5George File, Decorated Glass Flask, c. 1940
6Charlotte Angus, Hooked Rug, c. 1940
7Dorothy Lacey, Embroidered Rug, c. 1937
8Charlotte Angus, Pennsylvania German Show Towel,
9Roy Weber, Jamb Stove, c. 1938
10Charles Henning, Toleware Coffee Pot, c. 1940
11Carl Strehlau, Painted Cabinet, c. 1939
12Betty Jean Davis, Pennsylvania German Hanging Salt Box, c. 1939
13Rolland Livingstone, Pennsylvania German Candle Box,
14Betty Jean Davis, Pennsylvania German Chest, 1935/1942
15Carl Strehlau, Dower Chest, c. 1940
16Yolande Delasser, Adam and Eve, c. 1939
17Hester Duany, Owl, c. 1942
18Carl Strehlau, Pensylvania German Carved Bird, 1935/1942
19Roy Weber, Buttermold, 1935/1942
20Mina Lowry, Whirligig, c. 1937
21Albert Levone, Manuscript and Miniature, c. 1937
22Charlotte Angus, Woodcut Vorschrift, 1935/1942
23Charles Roadman, Birth Certificate, c. 1940