Home > Artist Database > Bio-bibliographic Database > WEBER, Anna

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Pennsylvania, United States, 1814
Waterloo County, Ontario, 1888
Biography synopsis
As a woman fraktur artist, Anna Weber was an anomaly in her Pennsylvania-German Mennonite community. She arrived in Waterloo County in 1825 where her family began farming and her father was ordained as a minister. After the death of her father (in 1854) and her mother (in 1864), she moved from household to household, living as a dependent with various members of the community. She was described as being of "unbrilliant mind" and extremely individualistic, a trait regarded with suspicion and disdain by many of her peers. In addition to decorative pen and wash fraktur art, which she began to practice in 1855, Weber also worked in various fiber arts, including embroidery and hooked rugs. She made show towels (finely embroidered linen strips), stuffed animals for children, woolen mats with stylized scenes, and also designed hope chests. Many of these objects may have been intended as gifts to her host families. Instead of employing the traditional motifs of fraktur art, most likely learned from Mr. Altsdorf, a teacher and fraktur artist in Pennsylvania, Weber often naturalized her designs and depicted animals and other elements from her everyday surroundings. Her works are known for their good sense of composition and colour, and are occasionally compared with art nouveau stained glass or tiles. Unusually for a Mennonite artist, Weber signed and dated all of her works, incorporating the letters and numbers into the total design. She continued to paint into old age despite various ailments, including arthritis and dropsy, and sixty of her fraktur paintings are extant.
Media used
Private study (under Mr. Altsdorf, Pennsylvania)
File & Archive locations
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Toronto Reference Library, ON
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, ON
Mennonite Archives of Ontario

Writings about
"Anna's Art." Brantford Expositor 15 Nov. 1976
"Decorated Book." Ontario History 68 (Dec. 1976): 265-68
"Fraktur Painting." Canadian Collector 19 (Sept-Oct. 1984): 38
Bird, Michael. Canadian Folk Art: Old Ways in a New Land. Toronto, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 1983
Bird, Michael S. Ontario Fraktur: A Pennsylvania-German Folk Tradition in Early Canada. Toronto: M. F. Feheley Publications, 1977
Cornell, Pamela. "Kitchener Youth Unfolds Tale of Mennonite Artist." Stratford Beacon Herald 31 Dec. 1976
French, William. "A Youthful Sleuth on the Trail of Anna." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 3 Feb. 1977
Good, Edgar Reginald. Anna's Art: The Fraktur Art of Anna Weber, a Waterloo County Mennonite Artist, 1814-1888. Kitchener: Pochauna Publications, 1976
Harper, J. Russell. A People's Art: Primitive, Naïve, Provincial and Folk Painting in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto, 1974
Hearn, John. "Collector's Item: Fraktur book beautiful." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 27 Feb. 1981: BL9
Heller, Liane. "Youth Found Artist Time Forgot." Kitchener Waterloo Record 18 Nov. 1976
Inglis, Grace. "Canadian Art Treasure: Anna Weber's fraktur." Hamilton Spectator 15 Jan. 1977
Jansen, Jo. Jo Sonja's Guide to Decorative Painting: Traditional Inspirations/Contemporary Expressions. New York: Watson-Guptill, 1999
McKenzie, Ruth. "Fanny Amelia Bayfield (Wright)." Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online Ottawa: Libraries and Archives Canada, 2008
Moore, David. "Focus on Art: Early Ontario art Facinating." Brantford Expositor 19 Aug. 1978
Patterson, Nancy-Lou. "Anna Weber hat das gemacht: Anna Weber (1814-1888) - a fraktur painter of Waterloo County, Ontario." Mennonite Life 30.2 (1975): 15-9
Stolzfus, Louise. Two Amish Folk Artists: The Story of Henry Lapp and Barbara Ebersol. Good Books, 1996
Wilson, Carol Ann. "Lost Art Form Discovered by Waterloo Man." Brantford Expositor 15 Nov. 1976
Wyatt, Louise. "Fraktur Art Collection Touted." London Free Press 12 Feb. 1977
Yardley, Jeanne and Linda J. Kenyon. "Dead and Buried: Murder and writing women's lives." Revue internationale d'études canadiennes 11 (Spring 1995): 195-205
Zyvatkauskas, Betty. "Great Getaways: German folk culture right at home in Kitchener." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 2 Mar. 1985: T4

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