|GREENSBURG, Pa. –The Westmoreland Museum of American Art has acquired the fraktur collection of Joy and David Brocklebank. Having focused on western Pennsylvania fraktur for 38 years, the Brocklebank’s collection consists of more than 200 hand-drawn and printed fraktur from Westmoreland County and other western Pennsylvania counties. It was assembled by a dedicated scholar who was interested in the artistry and genealogy of these works on paper.
“The acquisition of this major collection of western Pennsylvania fraktur strengthens The Westmoreland’s already significant regional folk art collection, which contains important examples of furniture including painted furniture from Soap Hollow, textiles including samplers and coverlets, redware and decorated stoneware, and paintings,” said Judith H. O’Toole, Director/CEO.
The fraktur tradition in western Pennsylvania flourished primarily in Westmoreland County for more than 100 years where nine artists have been identified by surviving work dated as early as 1788. The collection also contains fraktur from Allegheny, Bedford, Indiana, McKean, Somerset and Washington counties.
The Brocklebank fraktur join more than a dozen important Westmoreland County fraktur collected by the Museum since its founding in 1959, making the Westmoreland’s collection of western Pennsylvania fraktur the most important public or private collection known.
The term “fraktur” arises from the use of individual letters as opposed to cursive writing. Most early fraktur were executed by hand, while printed text became increasingly common in later examples. Typical artistic motifs in fraktur include birds, hearts, and tulips.
Today, most major American museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art include fraktur in their collection. The definitive text on Pennsylvania fraktur is widely considered to be The Fraktur-Writings or Illuminated Manuscripts of the Pennsylvania Germans, written by Dr. Donald A. Shelley and published by the Pennsylvania German Society in 1961.