Rick & Terry Ciccotelli Folk Art Collection

A dated 1831 Pennsylvania ink and watercolor fraktur presentation drawing attributed to Samuel Gottschall

p4A ItemID E8950711
A fraktur bookplate attributed to Johann Adam Eyer, showing a teacher holding a quill pen, watercolor on paper, dated 1789

p4A ItemID E8940482
A presentation drawing fraktur attributed to The Striped Tulip Artist, circa 1780, showing flowering plants in baskets

p4A ItemID E8940178
A gift drawing fraktur attributed to David Kulp, circa 1810, depicting a flowering plant

p4A ItemID E8940177

The Rick and Terry Ciccotelli Folk Art Collection-An Introduction

Rick and Terry Ciccotelli’s love of folk art began with fraktur, the decorated manuscripts produced by Pennsylvania-German immigrants and their descendants. Because many fraktur artists were teachers, as Rick was early in his career, the Ciccotellis found themselves drawn to the material. The scriptural nature of the texts resonated particularly with Rick, as a former college professor of religious studies. Their growing interest in fraktur led Rick and Terry to broader explorations of folk art and soon carried them into the wonderful world of painted surfaces. There they discovered such rarities as Mahantango Valley furniture and craftsmen, including Jonas Weber and John Drissell — both Mennonite artisans working in southeastern Pennsylvania. Painted boxes of every shape and size began to enter the collection. As Terry recently told me, she and Rick found it hard to pass up a good painted box! Working with David Schorsch, the Ciccotellis expanded their horizons to include other painted objects, as well as fine examples of weathervanes, painted tinware, pottery, and the occasional hooked rug. The provenance of pieces in the collection includes a veritable who’s who of folk art collectors: Frank and June Barsalona, Raymond and Susan Egan, Eugene and Dorothy Elgin, Ralph Esmerian, Thomas A. Gray, H. William Koch, Richard and Rosemarie Machmer, Asher J. Odenwelder, Earl and Ada Robackcer, and Donald and Esther Shelley. The result is a rich but focused collection reflecting a broad range of American folk art.

The Ciccotellis were also good friends of Winterthur, lending one of their plank-seat chairs made by John Swint of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as well as their financial support to the recent exhibition “Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725-1850″. As with Rick and Terry, fraktur was my gateway to developing a broader interest in folk art and furniture. I recall vividly that on my initial visit to the Ciccotelli’s apartment in Philadelphia , the first thing I encountered was a group of fraktur in the hallway that stopped me in my tracks. As I began scanning each piece for names, locations, and signatures — all the while trying to keep up a conversation with Rick about the fraktur — I was particularly impressed by Rick’s keen eye and deep knowledge about the collection. Above all, Rick and Terry’s friendliness and enthusiasm were heartwarming to me as a young scholar, and I fondly remember many conversations with them about the latest research and discoveries. When I contacted Rick and Terry last year to tell them about Winterthur’s acquisition of a rare drawing of the Easter bunny by fraktur artist Conrad Gilbert, Rick excitedly congratulated us on giving this superb piece such a happy home . Now it is time for the many treasures that Rick and Terry collected together to find their own new and happy homes. Enjoy!

Lisa lvlinardi, Assistant Curator

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library

Information courteso of Northeast Auctions, August 2012.


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