Ben Austrian: An American Original, features ten paintings including a group of Austrian's most important works, Golden Harvest (1900), Motherhood (1897), and Still Life (1898). Austrian is best known for his sensitive renderings of barnyard animals — especially mother hens tending to sometimes unruly chicks. The exhibition is mounted in honor of Judith M. Hartman, a long-time Museum volunteer and supporter. In 1982, Hartman published a seminal article on the artist that appeared in the Historical Review of Berks County (47:2). The Austrians will be installed flanking fellow Berks County artist Christopher Shearer's masterpiece, Smoky Range, Allegheny Mountains (1895).
The son of German-Jewish immigrants, Austrian was raised in Reading, Pennsylvania and rose to prominence in the 1890s, exhibiting his works in Philadelphia, New York, London, and Paris. He received critical praise for his ability to render animals and still life elements with great naturalism. Eventually, his chick paintings caught the attention of the makers of Bon Ami natural household cleanser. Austrian’s “just-hatched” chick appeared on packaging around 1902, and quickly became associated with the brand along with their tag line: “Hasn’t Scratched Yet®.” To this day, the product uses Austrian’s chick on its packaging.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website