At first glance, it’s a simple drawing of the old family farm. Your grandparents sentimentally tucked it away in the attic; occasionally bringing it out to reminisce, fascinated by the details and comparing it to the way the farm looks today. You’ve often wondered about the artist - someone who had the patience to make such a large, detailed depiction of buildings, landscape, livestock, and even an accurate, albeit tiny, sketch of your great-great grandfather. You marvel at the moment in time, captured by someone you will never know anything about. Or, will you?
Whether by happenstance or research, a few families in northeast Ohio and central Pennsylvania have successfully connected such drawings to an enigmatic, but highly collectible artist, named Ferdinand Brader. Emigrating to rural Pennsylvania in the early 1870s from his native Switzerland, Brader found work as an itinerant artist; traveling from farm to farm, monetizing an incredible eye for detail and a penchant for recreating simple but charming scenes from everyday life. Today, his works sell at esteemed auction houses and galleries across the country for tens of thousands of dollars.
Enthusiasts for Brader’s work will have an opportunity to own a particularly rare and well-documented example from Wayne County, Ohio, when it crosses the auction block at fine art and antiques auction house, Garth’s, in Delaware, Ohio on May 14. Having sold the vast majority of Brader drawings that have come on the market, Garth’s early American experts estimate the meticulous illustration of the “Residence of Joseph and Anna Gindelsperger”, dated 1888 and signed and numbered (the artist numbered his sketches sequentially throughout his career), will fetch between $10,000 and $15,000. Similar examples have sold in excess of $30,000 at auction. Accompanied by a birth and baptism record for the Gindelsperger’ eldest daughter, Mary, the drawing has been thoroughly researched and well-preserved.
“Farm illustrations by Ferdinand Brader have become increasingly more valuable as scholars uncover more information about his life and work,” remarks Jeff Jeffers, CEO of Garth’s. “The Gindelsperger farm drawing establishes one more link in the documentation. The fact that the owner had found the accompanying birth record for Mary is simply incredible. That is the kind of ‘needle-in-a-haystack’ find that comes along once in a lifetime.”
Brader created nearly 1000 pictures of farms and homesteads throughout his career, with examples surfacing in Pennsylvania (Berks, Lancaster, Somerset and Allegheny counties) and northeast Ohio (Portage, Stark, Summit and Wayne counties). Museums, including the Canton Museum of Art, have mounted popular exhibits of his work -with curators working tirelessly to uncover undocumented examples.
How can you determine if your farm sketch is by Brader? “Brader drawings typically have an inscription along the bottom, identifying the family, the date and in most cases, the number of the drawing in his chronology of works,” explains Jeff Jeffers. “The drawings can be quite large - and often are darkened from age.” Those curious about a drawing are invited to email the experts at Garth’s for help with authentication.
On the upcoming auction, Jeffers says, “We anticipate enthusiastic attention to the Gindelsperger farm record. Among Brader works, this one has a lot going on.”
For more information about the works of Ferdinand Brader, contact Garth’s at 740.362.4771 or email@example.com. To view the entire description and comprehensive photo gallery of the Gindelsperger farm drawing, visit garths.com.