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Jacob Fisher & Son's Forge

Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Schuylkill County
Primary Support: 17 3/16 x 21 5/8in. (43.7 x 54.9cm); Pictorial Composition: 15 15/16 x 20 13/16in. (40.5 x 52.9cm); and Framed: 22 x 26 7/16 x 2in.
Graphite on wove paper
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2008.202.1
A composite image with an oval in the center bordered at each of its ends by acanthus leaf scrolls, at top by an eagle on a ledge and, at bottom, by an inscribed banner. The image within the oval reserve is a combination residence and business complex, with houses, barns or sheds, and a 3-story building with a wing and chimney beside a body of water. A rocky outcropping occupies the lower right third of the oval. The images in the four quadrants are, clockwise, beginning at upper left: (1) a large shed with a smoking chimney beside a stream driving a water wheel, (2) two frame structures with "gingerbread" trim set not quite in line with one another, (3) a 4-horse team shown standing and waiting while a man beside the wagon they pull looks into an open doorway of a shed, another shed to the right rear, and (4) a long, low shed built beside a small waterfall on a river with other buildings in the background.
The 2-inch stained and ebonized, molded, cyma recta walnut frame is a modern replacement.
Label:Charles Hofmann is best known for his colorful oil paintings and a small number of watercolors. This is the only pencil drawing recorded to date, though he probably did others. The composite image recalls the format often used in published county atlases of the period and, indeed, at least two of Hofmann's oils are known to have served as sources for atlas illustrations (or conversely, but less likely, Hofmann's works were derived from the published images). The drawing also falls quite early in Hofmann's career in America; he emigrated in 1860, and only a handful of works pre-date his 1869 images of the Fisher forge.
These multiple views of the same complex provide interesting insights regarding iron forges in mid nineteenth century America, particularly the close proximity of its residential and industrial components. The Fishers conveniently lived at the site of their work. Acanthus leaf scrolls and a fierce-looking eagle add finishing touches of elegance and patriotism.
Provenance:Frank Schwarz, Philadelphia, Penn.: possible unidentified dealer(s); Olde Hope Antiques, New Hope, Penn.; Antique Associates at West Townsend, West Townsend, Mass.; AARFAM.
Mark(s):No watermark was found in the course of paper conservation in 2009.
Inscription(s):In pencil in script in the lower left corner of the lower right quadrant image is: "C Hofmann/Painter 1869."

In pencil in handwritten, forward-slanting lettering on the rock to the right of the image in the central oval is: "C. Hofmann/Painter".

In the title ribbon at lower center in open block-style lettering in graphite is: "Jacob Fisher & Son's/ Forge/ Schuylkill County Pa."