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Winterthur Digital Collections

About this collection

John Lewis Krimmel (1786-1821), portrait and genre painter, emigrated from Germany to Philadelphia around 1809. He took a few art classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and with other artists, but was largely self-taught. Inspired by his new environment, he practiced his art by sketching local people of different ages, classes, and races in various scenes. Trips to the neighboring Lehigh Valley resulted in landscape and botany studies. In 1817 Krimmel traveled to Bermuda and back to Germany keeping a visual diary through his drawings. His accidental drowning near Germantown, PA in 1821 ended a promising career.

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Winterthur Library owns seven sketchbooks in watercolor, pencil, and pen and ink kept by Krimmel between 1809 and 1821. The sketches show mountains, harbor and town scenes, wooded landscapes, country scenes, boats, people, animals, flowers, household utensils, and costume and anatomical studies. The artist's development in portraying anatomy, perspective, color, and composition are clearly seen in these books. As one of the first artists in America to focus on the middle class and everyday scenes, Krimmel's work paralleled our new nation's democratic principles.

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For more information on Krimmel, see John Lewis Krimmel: Genre Artist of the Early Republic, by Anneliese Harding, published by Winterthur in 1994, which served as a resource for creating this database.

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The finding aid for the collection is available at: http://findingaid.winterthur.org/html/HTML_Finding_Aids/COL0308.htm.

 
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