While Lechler rarely signed his name to his paintings or included dates, his distinctive style of portraiture became his signature.
Greencastle, PA (PRWEB) October 30, 2015
An exhibition of 19th century local folk artist Dr. William David Lechler will be on display through the month of November at the Allison-Antrim Museum.
Dr. Lechler was born in 1809 in Carlisle and moved to Waynesboro around 1846 with his wife Nancy and started a dentist trade. While he worked as dentist, his passion was painting portraits and taking photographs. These works of art were mostly portraits of family members of well-do-families in Franklin County and Washington County, Md. It was noted in an 1882 newspaper article that while Lechler enjoyed painting, his profession was always dentistry.
While Lechler rarely signed his name to his paintings or included dates, his distinctive style of portraiture became his signature. Lechler painted many of his subjects seated on a red chair, had a distinct way of painting the hands and included a unique stipping behind his subjects.
Such notable subjects included George Ziegler, the first Ziegler in Greencastle who incorporated the Waynesboro, Greencastle and Mercersburg Turnpike Company and was a founder of the First National Bank. Some of Lechler’s rarer work includes an allegorical painting, which was a step outside his “signature” style.
One of Lechler’s contemporary artists was Wilhelm Schimmel (1817-1890,) who worked in the Carlisle area and was well-known for his bird and animal wood carvings. He was a traveling artist, much like early 20th century folk artist Frank Feather, who worked from Franklin County to Frederick County, Md. and carved canes, wall plaques, boxes, racks, combs and brushes from wood.
The Lechlers’ remained in Waynesboro for about 24 years and when William and Nancy passed away in 1889 and 1890, respectively, their niece Lula took possession of many of her uncle’s works of art. Unfortunately in 1920’s, a fire destroyed all of these paintings, one of which was titled “Rebecca at the Well.” The remaining portraits have become coveted pieces in private collections during various estate sales in the area.
The first exhibition of Lechler’s work was shown in 1982 at the Washington County Museum of Fine Art.
The Allison-Antrim Museum is located at 365 South Ridge Avenue in Greencastle and is open Monday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m. Questions? Call the museum at 717-597-9010.
The exhibition is free to attend but donations are accepted.
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