Johann Heinrich Otto (American, ca. 1773–ca. 1800)
Watercolor, pen and iron gall ink, and graphite on off-white laid paper
13 13/16 x 16 9/16 in. (33.5 x 42.1 cm)
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1966 (66.242.1)
By 1770, the German émigré Otto had begun to make various forms of fraktur, a style of decorative calligraphy named after a sixteenth-century German typeface. His skill is evident in the pleasing balance of color and form achieved in the composition of repetitive motifs. For example, the parrots perched at either side of the sheet and the two peacocks that cross necks above the tulip are nearly identical in their respective form but vary in the patterning on their wings. Touches of blue enhance the harmony among the greens, reds, and yellows that dominate Pennsylvania German fraktur designs.