PROPERTY SOLD WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE TRUSTEES OF THE PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART TO BENEFIT ACQUISITION FUNDS
Johannes Braun was born in 1808 to Michael Braun (1772-1851) and his wife Catharina and later joined his father in the cabinetmaking and carpentry business. The Northumberland County Biographical Annals records that “John Brown, son of Michael … lived on the place now occupied by his son John F. Brown. He was not only a farmer, but a carpenter and weaver as well, doing house and shop carpentry, making considerable furniture and in his earlier years many coffins, and he wove all sorts of woolen wear and carpets.” Made of poplar with four long drawers, this tall four-drawer chest is constructed with the refinements of a molded overhanging molded top, inset paneled sides, and turned feet.
The whimsical painted decoration, which is comprised of birds, trees, and stenciled rosettes inspired by contemporary printed Fraktur, is attributed to Johann Valentin Schuller, Jr., who executed nearly identical motifs on the Taufschein of Susan Brown bearing his signature (see Henry M. Reed, Decorated Furniture of the Mahantongo Valley, 1987, plate 20, p. 57). Married to Eva Huber, the daughter of Henry Huber of Pinegrove Township, Schuller’s Fraktur’s were frequently signed, either by hand or in print, and characterized by fine penmanship and patterns colored in shades of red and yellow. He is particularly known for his half size certificates, in which urns and tulips neatly flank the text. He bought many pre-printed forms for his Fraktur work in Reading, including 150 certificates noted in the Alder account book for February 16, 1813.
Braun and Schuller worked together on several other pieces of Mahantongo furniture, including the 1828 Rebecca Braun cupboard in the collection of the Barnes Foundation, the 1830 “Concortia” cupboard in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the 1829 Andrea Braun chest (see Reed, figs. 18, 19, and 43, pp. 34, 35, and 58). They also possibly collaborated on the 1834 Peter Braun chest (see plate 10, p. 29) A very similar four drawer Mahantongo chest attributed to Johannes Braun with painted decoration attributed to Johann Schuller sold at Sotheby’s, Important Americana, May 23, 2002, sale 7801, lot 299. A related hanging cupboard attributed to Johannes Braun sold in the same sale as lot 296.
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