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Birth and Baptismal Certificate for Hanna Elisabetha Clodfelder (1807-1881)

ca. 1807
Origin: America, North Carolina, Rowan County
Other (Primary support): 15 1/8 x 12 3/8in. (38.4 x 31.4cm) Framed: 17 3/4 x 15 1/8 x 1 1/8in. (45.1 x 38.4 x 2.9cm)
Watercolor and ink on laid paper
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1960.305.3
A certificate whose large, red-lettered heading is twined with a snake, below which are several lines of text, all of them confined to the upper half of the sheet. A floral spray appears above the heading, and twining flowers climb the sides, seeming to emanate from the tops of two, red-white-and-yellow, spirally-striped columns that, in the lower half of the composition, stand on plinths decorated with 6-pointed compass stars. Between the two columns, a floral spray is shown behind a parrot, who perches atop a compass-drawn design of 6 interlocking circles filled with flowers.

The 1 1/2-inch unpainted, beveled pine frame is probably a period replacement.
Label:The itinerant artist's "convenience name" was assigned him in 1961 by Donald Shelley in observance of the frequency with which he began his inscriptions with the words "Ehre Vater und Mutter" ("Honor Father and Mother").

The artist's North Carolina work was created in a centralized area encompassing the towns of Bethania, Bethabara, Friedberg, and Salem (now part of Winston-Salem). Other pieces were executed in Virginia and South Carolina, while nearly half of the artist's known body of work was done for families living in Pennsylvania in Bucks, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Northampton, and Somerset counties. .

The vertical format of Hanna Clodfelder's birth and baptismal certificate is typical of the artists's work, as is its bold heading, parrot, and assorted geometric devices. The artist also was particularly adept at shading motifs to suggest three dimensional forms, as illustrated here by the larger leaves, the backs of the parrot and snake, and the geometric stars in the plinths.

The subject's surname was variously spelled Clodfelder, Gladfelder, Gladfelter, and Gladfeltter. Hanna Elisabetha's father was a hatter, and both parents belonged to the Moravian congregation at Friedberg, south of Winston-Salem. Hanna's mother died in 1822; in 1824, her father married her aunt, her mother's sister, Johanna Walk (who, earlier, had been one of the sponsors at the the child's baptism). Johannes and Johanna Walk Clodfelder eventually moved to a Moravian community in Edwards County, Illinois. The inscription on the back of Hanna's certificate suggests that she moved with them. Hanna married Jacob Craver, whose name and birth date were added at the end of the text on the front of her certificate by a later hand, possibly Hanna's own.
Provenance:Ownership prior to AARFAC's vender, Robert Carlen of Philadelphia, Penn., is undocumented.
Mark(s):No watermark found.
Inscription(s):The heading is written in red watercolor in Gothic-style lettering: "Jesus meine Freude". The body of the text is written in brown ink in Gothic-style lettering: "Hanna Elisabetha Clodfelder/ist geboren in Northcarolina, in Roen Caunty, im Jahr/1807 den 28ten November ihre Eltern sind Johannes Clodfelder/und sein christliches Eheweib Maria Magdalena geb: Walk, sie/ist zur heiligen Tauffe gebracht worden bey dem Herrn Ridi/luth; Prediger, ihre Tauffzeugen waren Hanna Walk/ und Georg Frey." A final sentence is written in script in English in bluish-black ink: "Jacob Craver was born April 13th 1796."

The English translation of the heading reads: "Jesus My Joy." The body of the text reads: "Hanna Elisabetha Clodfelder is born in North Carolina in Rowen County in the year 1807 the 28th of November. Her parents are Johannes Clodfelder and his Christian wife, Maria Magdalena, born Walk. She was brought to Holy Baptism by Mr. Ridi, Lutheran preacher. Her baptismal sponsors were Hanna Walk and George Frey."

An inscription on the back of the primary support in bluish-black ink is juxtaposed to the outline of a stylized tulip; it reads: "1853 . . . Mary Craver of Illinois/Mary/Elizabeth/Mary".