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 George William Sotter  (1879 - 1953)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania      Known for: landscape-skyscape and coastal painting, stain-glass

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Ad Code: 2
George Sotter
from Auction House Records.
Village at Night
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:


George Sotter, though relatively unknown, has recently been called "one of the most locally popular of the Pennsylvania Impressionists." (An American Tradition, 1995-96, p. 29).  Born in Pittsburgh on September 25, 1879, Sotter began his art education with local teachers and with Henry G. Keller, who had studied in various German academies.  Keller, known for his superb, atmospheric watercolors, taught at the Cleveland School of Art but Sotter studied with him in Pittsburgh.  Later Sotter would exhibit between 1903 and 1937 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  His works were also shown at the Corcoran Gallery (1912-23), the Carnegie International (1901-26), the National Academy of Design (1913 and 1921), and at the Art Institute of Chicago (1911-27).  In 1915, Sotter exhibited four works at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, where he won a silver medal.  Sotter was known mainly as a stained-glass artist; his work may be seen from New York City to Salt Lake City.  Around a dozen craftsmen worked under him for these commissions. 

Sotter spent the summer of 1902 with Pennsylvania impressionist Edward Redfield in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  Between 1910 and 1919, Sotter taught at the Carnegie Institute of Technology.  His paintings often feature large areas of sky filled with clouds and he frequently painted winter night scenes, such as Moonlight, Bucks County (Beacon Hill Fine Art), a perfectly successful depiction of a quiet, moonlit landscape filled with twinkling stars. Star-studded skies, although rare in landscape painting, go back at least to 1600 when they appear in the oeuvre of Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610), a German painter who worked in Rome.  The early eighteenth-century series of landscapes dedicated to the planets by the Bolognese master Donato Creti (Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome) also feature stars, but one might also think of Vincent van Gogh's famous Starry Night of 1889 (Museum of Modern Art) when searching for precedents.  Sotter's Moonlight, Bucks County has an atmosphere of fantasy and nostalgia that one associates with American illustration and especially with Maxfield Parrish and his evocative, dream-like visions.  Sotter was given a special exhibition toward the end of his life (1950) at the Woodmere Gallery in Philadelphia.  Sotter died at Holicong (near Doylestown), Pennsylvania in 1953.  The Bianco Gallery, Buckingham, PA, has been working on a catalogue raisonné of Sotter's work.
An American Tradition: Pennsylvania Impressionists. New York: Beacon Hill Fine Art,  1995-96, p. 29; Folk, Thomas, The Pennsylvania Impressionists. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1997, p. 102.

Submitted by Michael Preston Worley, Ph.D.

Biography from Newman Galleries:
George W. Sotter lived in Holicong, Pennsylvania, near New Hope, in a converted 19th Century stone barn.  There, in his studio, he painted landscape scenes of Bucks County, an act that connected him to the New Hope School of American Impressionism.  Sotter also fashioned stained glass windows that remain intact in cathedrals, churches, and monasteries throughout the country.

In his early youth, Sotter painted the rivers and mills of Pittsburgh, PA, where he was born in 1879.  He came to Bucks County in 1902, to study under Edward W. Redfield, the premier painter of the New Hope School.  That same year, he participated in the annual exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  He continued his studies at the Academy under William Merritt Chase, Thomas Anshutz, and Henry G. Keller.

In 1907, he married artist Alice E. Bennett, whom he first met in Pittsburgh, at the Rudy Brothers Stained Glass Studio.  On an extended wedding trip abroad, the couple studied and painted throughout Europe.  For nine years, Sotter taught design and painting at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, before moving permanently to their historic home in Holicong in 1919.

Sotter was especially adept at painting winter night scenes, and consistently won the favorite painting ballot (cast by his artist colleagues) at the autumn exhibitions that took place in Phillips Mill, New Hope, PA.

The artist died in 1953.

Biography from James A. Michener Art Museum:

Recent announcement of the results of the favorite-painting ballot at the Fall Show at Phillips Mill, brings a quick memory of George Sotter's embarrassment when, year after year, he kept winning this prize at the Mill Show. His fellow artists simply chuckled in deep personal affection for George and admiration of his magic, especially in his skies, the light shining through the skies in all of his landscapes --especially the light through starry night skies, falling on snow. - Constance Allen Ward

George W. Sotter was a well known landscape painter and designer of stained-glass windows. He was especially regarded for his winter scenes in moonlight and his landscapes with cloud-filled skies.

While studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Sotter discovered Bucks County in 1902. That summer he studied with Edward Redfield, where he was the only male student. The two artists became life-long friends. Sotter returned to Pittsburgh to work as a partner in the stained glass studio of Horace Rudy. He also taught for nine years as assistant professor of painting and design at the Carnegie Institute of Technology.

Sotter moved to Bucks County permanently in 1919, and brought his reputation as an expert in stained glass with him. He accepted commissions for stained glass windows from churches and monasteries all around the country, and developed a staffed operation that fabricated his famous designs. His award-winning paintings hang in many private and public collections.

Sotter consistently won the favorite-painting ballot cast by attendees of the Phillip Mill Art Exhibition.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

George Sotter is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915
Painters of Grand Canyon

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