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 Louis Mader  (1842 - 1892)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania / Germany      Known for: naive historical, mural

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Ad Code: 3
Louis Mader
from Auction House Records.
View of Berks County Almshouse
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Folk artist Louis Mader was born in 1842 in Germany. He came to the United States in 1867, when the almshouses were filling with recent immigrants. He first entered the Berks County Almshouse in 1892. He painted at least eight views of the Almshouse during the next three years. Mader was one of the three "Pennsylvania Almshouse Painters" along with John Rasmussen and Charles Hofmann, so named because they were all committed to the Berks County Almshouse in Shillington, Pennsylvania.

Unlike Hofmann, the best-known "Pennsylvania Almshouse Painter," Mader never depicted any of the other almshouses, and his only known non-almshouse subject was in a painted mural in a house in Parksburg, Pennsylvania. His departure from the Berks County Almshouse in 1899 is the last record of Mader's existence. His actual date of death is unknown.

Louis Mader's aerial view of the Berks County Almshouse, 1895, oil on metal, is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. The painting has been exhibited twice: in 1968, in Pennsylvania Almshouse Painters--Charles Hofmann, John Rasmussen and Louis Mader, at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Williamsburg, Virginia, unpaginated and unnumbered (cat. by Thomas Armstrong); and in 1978, in The American Folk Art Tradition: Paintings from the Garbisch Collection, at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1978.

A bibliography for Louis Mader includes:

American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 80, repro.

American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 197, repro.

Armstrong, Thomas. "Charles C. Hofmann." In Lipman, Jean, and Tom Armstrong, eds. American Folk Painters of Three Centuries. Exh. cat. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1950: 103-109. (discusses Almshouse as institution).
Chotner, Deborah, with contributions by Julie Aronson, Sarah D. Cash, and Laurie Weitzenkorn. American Naive Paintings. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 249-250, repro. 250.
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 230, repro.

One of America's first indigenous flowerings of American art and crafts took place in Berks County, from the mid-18th century to the latter half of the 19th century. Pennsylvania German folk art flourished in Berks and several adjacent counties.
The Reading Public Museum, in Pennsylvania, has one of America's outstanding collections of folk art.


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