Maker: Johann Heinrich Otto (ca. 1733–ca. 1800)

Date: ca. 1770–1800

Geography: Made in Pennsylvania, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Watercolor, pen and iron gall ink, and graphite on off-white laid paper

Dimensions: 13 3/16 x 16 9/16 in. (33.5 x 42.1 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1966

Accession Number: 66.242.1


By 1770, Otto, a German émigré, had begun to make various forms of fraktur, a style of decorative calligraphy named after a sixteenth-century German typeface. Otto’s skill is evident in the pleasing checks and balances of color and form he 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 form but vary in the patterning on their wings. Touches of blue enhance the harmony among the reds, greens, and yellows that dominate in Pennsylvania German fraktur designs.