May 13, 2014–January 8, 2017

Mary Valentine Bucher
Dr. Christian Bucher

Jacob Maentel (1778-?) Improvement

Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania

c. 1825–1830

Watercolor, gouache, ink, and pencil on paper

16 1/2 x 10 1/8" (sight); 16 1/2 x 10 1/2" (sight)

Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York

Gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.7, 8

Photo by Stephen Donelian

Mary Valentine Bucher
Dr. Christian Bucher

German immigrant Jacob Maentel served in the Second Regiment of the Second Brigade of the Pennsylvania Militia from September 1, 1814, to March 1, 1815, and was naturalized in York County soon after his discharge. Between 1807 and 1846, he painted more than two hundred detailed and anecdotal portraits of neighbors in southeastern Pennsylvania and Indiana. Dr. and Mrs. Bucher were painted in Schaefferstown, where Maentel’s name shares space in the parish register of the St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church with many of his subjects, including the Buchers. He is listed in the Indiana tax rolls for New Harmony Township by 1838, where he continued to portray members of the tight-knit German community, some of whom he had known in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Christian Bucher (1796–1860) was a third-generation physician whose portrait shows a floor-to-ceiling medical cabinet with shelves holding labeled bottles of medicinal herbs and chemicals. The large table is laden with medical equipment; a set of keys hangs at Dr. Bucher’s waist, and he is shown in the active pursuit of his profession, grinding a prescription. Mary Valentine Bucher (1803–1889) was descended from Baron Stiegel, the early glassmaker. Mrs. Bucher is shown in her domestic interior, the two portraits united by the inclusion of identical chairs. After his death, Dr. Bucher was remembered in the Lebanon Courier (April 23, 1889) as one of the “well known and highly respected citizens of this county . . . [whose] death will be extensively mourned.”

Stacy C. Hollander, “Mary Valentine Bucher/Dr. Christian Bucher,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.