Displaying items by tag: paintings

Wednesday, 12 July 2023 15:11

William Henry Ortlip

This week's blog is brought to us by one of our volunteers, Tate Conklin.

Painting of the DeKalb Street Bridge
Painting of the DeKalb Street Bridge by William H. Ortlip (HSMC Art Collection)

General Winfield Scott Hancock is a name widely known due to his dominance in the Civil War as a Union general. Recently, we found this oil painting of the DeKalb Street Bridge. It was painted by William Henry Ortlip—seemingly having no connection to W.S. Hancock. However, upon further research, we discovered that he is actually a first cousin of W.S. Hancock. 

William Henry Ortlip was born in 1851 in Audubon, PA. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Ortlip specialized in still life and landscape oil paintings.  He was good friends of Thomas  Eakin, an extremely notable artist of the late 19th century. 

Black and white photograph of William H. Ortlip
William Henry Ortlip (1851-1936) (HSMC Photograph Collection)

Ortlip’s monochromatic depiction of the DeKalb Street Bridge features a calming overcast sky reflecting  off of the Schuylkill River. This is contrasted by the prominent green trees, scattered in front of and around the bridge. The original bridge no longer stands; it burned down in 1924, but it was reopened a few years later. 

Painting runs in the Ortlip family, as it spans four generations of professional artists. William Henry Ortlip’s son, H. Willard Ortlip, was a motivated and skilled artist. He followed in his father’s footsteps and attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he met his wife, Aimèe Eschner. Three of their seven children became professional artists. Third and fourth-generation descendants of William Henry Ortlip have continued embodying the family’s profound heritage. 

William Henry Ortlip died in 1936 and was buried in the Montgomery Cemetery. He has continued to inspire generations upon generations of Ortlips to follow suit and express their artistic talents. 


Published in Found in Collection
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 19:58

Tinsel Paintings

There are many styles of decorative arts, but one of the lesser known is tinsel paintings. Done on the back of glass, tinsel paintings use metallic foil to paint decorative designs. When viewed under light, the foil produces a unique shimmer.


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Photo Credit: American Folk Art Museum


This style of decorative art was popular, particularly among women, in the United States from 1850 to 1890.[1] Some young women even attended classes to learn how to make these intricate pieces of art. Since botanical patterns were easy to obtain, most tinsel paintings depict floral imagery.[2] Some rare works even included photography and collages to make the painting.[3]


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Photo Credit: American Folk Art Museum


At HSMC, we are fortunate to have a beautiful example of tinsel painting. This tea table was made by Emma Kratz Weinberger in 1860, when she was just seventeen-years-old. Emma attended the Excelsior Normal Institute in Carversville, where she learned how to make paintings like the one on this table. She married Professor John Weinberger and moved to Collegeville circa 1860, where John taught at Ursinus College. It seems likely that Emma continued to make tinsel paintings after her move to Collegeville, but, like so many other tinsel paintings, they have likely been lost or broken over time.


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Emma Kratz Weinberger Tea Table, 1860


This tea table is currently on display in our Made in Montgomery County exhibit, which is free and open to the public. We invite you to come view it for yourselves before the exhibit closes on February 1, 2019.


Take a look at this short video to see more examples of tinsel paintings:


[1]American Folk Art Museum, “Foiled: Tinsel Painting in America,” September 12, 2012,

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Published in Found in Collection