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Valley Fraktur

Bernhart & Company: Shenandoah Valley Folk Art Fraktur (1774-1850). On view June 4, 2011 – January 21, 2012

More than seventy documents, known as fraktur, full of bright colors, flowers, birds, whimsical creatures, funny plants and spontaneity were on view the gallery in this exhibition of works by fraktur artist Peter Bernhart of Rockingham County and his local colleagues. Many had never been seen before.

The hand-written papers decorated with pen, ink, and watercolor celebrate and preserve significant family events of the early German-Swiss settlers, such as birth and baptisms, marriage and house blessings, romance, or games.

The display was composed of digital images of original documents which are in private and public collections and presented folk art at its finest. The motifs, old German text, and family details are a rich resource for genealogy research made possible by the families who preserved the cultural heritage of the Valley in these decorative folk art designs.

A full color catalog, now out of print, is available for research in the HRHS Library.

Unknown Artist, 1812. Detail of birth and baptismal certificate for George Jacob Blose. HRHS Collection.

Peter Bernhart, 1816. Detail of birth and baptismal certificate for Sally Blosser. Private collection.

Peter Bernhart, 1812. Detail of birth and baptismal certificate for Theodora Bear. Private Collection.