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Anna Weber

Drawing, TWO BIRDS IN A FLOWERED TREE, by Anna Weber

(1814-1888)
Fraktur Artist

Two Birds in Flowered Tree
Drawing

Two Birds in Flowered Tree, by Anna Weber
Source


Anna Weber was one of the most prolific and outstanding fraktur artists in Ontario. She came to Ontario, as a young girl, in 1825. Her family was among the Mennonite settlers who immigrated to Waterloo County from Pennsylvania, because the Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania were experiencing hard times.

Fraktur, a Pennsylvania German decorative tradition, combines calligraphic and pictorial elements in the embellishment of religious texts and family documents. The largest output of Ontario fraktur art occurred in Waterloo County, from the early 1820s to almost 1890. Anna Weber, one of the best known and most prolific of the Waterloo County artists, was unusual in a number of ways. Foremost, female fraktur artists were rare. In addition, Anna's art departed from traditional fraktur work in that her art was primarily pictorial. Anna's pen and wash drawings were also unusual in her use of colour and in her personal motivation.

The Weber family settled on a farm in Waterloo County and Anna's father, who had become a Mennonite deacon in Pennsylvania, was ordained as a minister in 1833. Anna, who never married, lived with her parents on the family farm. From these years, samples of Anna's needlework and embroidery remain. Anna's father died in 1854 and her mother died ten years later. Until her death in 1888, Anna lived with various family and community members. Most of Anna's artistic output dates from this last period of her life. Most of the over sixty works by Anna Weber that have been discovered were found in the homes of descendants of the Mennonite families with whom Anna lived. It is believed that many of Anna's paintings were done as gifts to these families. Often, the drawings were thought to be for children of the families.

Anna's pen and wash drawings use traditional Pennsylvania-German motifs such as the Tree of Life, birds, and flowers. The outlines and lettering were done with a pen using dark ink and watercolour was applied with a fine brush. Many of Anna's works were dated and signed with the phrase "Anna Weber has das gemacht," meaning "Anna Weber has made this," with the lettering forming part of the decorative border. Anna Weber's work reflects the Mennonite folk art tradition of her community, but also gives hints of her religious convictions and her personality.

Resources

Bird, Michael S. — Ontario fraktur : a Pennsylvania-German folk tradition in early Canada. — Toronto : M. F. Feheley Publishers, 1977. — 144 p.

Good, Edgar Reginald. — Anna's art : the fraktur art of Anna Weber, a Waterloo County Mennonite artist, 1814-1888. — Kitchener, Ont. : Pochauna Publications, 1976. — 48 p.

Patterson, Nancy-Lou. — "Anna Weber hat das gemacht : Anna Weber (1814-1888) - a fraktur painter of Waterloo County, Ontario". — Mennonite life. — Vol. 30, no. 2 (1975). — P. 15-19

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