Bertha Ottilie Stammler Townsend


Bertha Ottilie Stammler Townsend


The Country Sale

Oil on Canvas

25 x 30 inches

Signed Lower Left

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Bertha Ottilie Stammler Townsend (March 6, 1894 – July 26, 1978) - A.K.A., “Bertha S. Townsend”

Portrait and landscape painter, photographer, writer.  Born in Johnstown, Cambria County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Maria D. Fronheiser (1854 – 1931) and Frederic W. Stammler (1850 – 1917), a mechanical engineer.  

She attended the Greater Johnstown High School and then studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, where she would have received instruction from teachers Daniel Garber (1880 – 1958), Robert Henri (1865 – 1929) and Samuel Murray (1869 – 1941).  When she graduated in 1916 she was awarded the "John Baird" prize for “assiduous study and progress.”  It is also reported that Townsend studied further at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA).

Townsend appears to have exhibited mainly regionally, especially with the Allied Artists of Johnstown, where she won prizes for her portraiture in the 1930s.  She was selected to paint portraits of two professors for Susquehanna University, one of a “Dr. Foumer” (c. 1931) and the other of Dr. Thomas C. Houtz (c. 1935).  At the 1939 art alliance exhibition at the Altoona Art Center one of her works received a glowing review; “ ‘Autumnby Bertha Townsend is one of the loveliest landscapes in the art alliance show.” By the following year she and her husband, George (1898 – 1986), had moved to nearby Ferndale, Pennsylvania.

Later in life she became interested in photography and was a regular judge in competitions, such as at the Pittsburgh International Salon of Photographic Art at the Carnegie Institute (1949) and the 4th International Color Slide competition (1952).  As a competitor she won a prize for one of the best slides submitted to the International Exhibition of Photography (1955) held in Louisville, Kentucky.  She also served as a judge at art venues, including the 1947 Indiana County Art Association annual art exhibition.  She also wrote a history of the Stammler family.

Bertha Stammler Townsend died on Wednesday, the 26th of July 1978 at the age of eighty-four years.  

Though there are undoubtedly other exhibitions in which Townsend participated, those presently known include the following: Allied Artists of Johnstown, PA, c. 1930s-1950s (1931 prize); Indiana County Art Association, IN, c. 1930s-50s (1936 prize); Altoona Art Center, Altoona, PA, 1939; Civic Club Art Exhibition, Latrobe, PA, 1940; The Second Chicago International Exhibition of Nature Photography, Chicago, IL, 1947 (honorable mention); Chicago Color Club, Chicago, IL, 1950 (prize); International Exhibition of Photography, Louisville, KY, 1955 (prize).

This biography was researched, compiled, and written by Geoffrey K. Fleming, Executive Director, Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV.