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 John Rasmussen  (1828 - 1895)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania / Germany      Known for: naive town-portrait, landscape

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
VIEW OF THE BERKS COUNTY ALMSHOUSE
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Folk artist John Rasmussen, because of his poverty, spent sixteen years--1879 until his death in 1895--in the Berks County Almshouse in Shillington, Pennsylvania, and later became known in art circles as one of the three Pennsylvania Almshouse Painters. (The others were Charles Hofmann and Louis Mader).

An old man by the standards of the day, Rasmussen was fifty-one years of age when committed. His only known paintings were executed after his committal, though he had been previously listed as a painter in public directories for Reading, Pennsylvania.

Born 1828, Rasmussen came to the United States from Germany in 1865.

Another German-born artist, Charles Hofmann, also resided at the Berks County Almshouse, and had been painting the Almshouse buildings and grounds, as well as those in Schuylkill and Montgomery counties, where he had also been detained for vagrancy and drunkenness. Rasmussen, inspired by Hofmann, began making colorful, detailed landscapes of the Almshouse environment.

Hofmann had managed to sell some of his paintings to area residents between 1865 and 1882, the year he died. While Rasmussen's and Hofmann's paintings are related in subject matter, the fact that they both painted in oil on a tin support, and Rasmussen was able to sell some of his paintings to Hofmann's former buyers, their styles are distinguishable.

Rasmussen's story was completed on the same sad note with which it began because recognition came long after his death. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Collection, Williamsburg, Virginia, put on a retrospective show of the three Almshouse Painters' work in 1968. Their paintings may be found in a limited number of private and public collections, including, for John Rasmussen, the Reading Public Museum and Art Gallery in Pennsylvania, and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Collection.



Source: Michael David Zellman, "300 Years of American Art"

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