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George Sotter papers


Held at: James A. Michener Art Museum Archives [Contact Us]138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA, 18901

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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George W. Sotter (1879-1953) and Alice (Bennett) Sotter (1883-1968) were painters and stained-glass window designers in Holicong, Pennsylvania, near New Hope, Bucks County.

George William Sotter was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1879 to Nicholas and Katherine Sotter. In his youth, Sotter painted the rivers and mills of Pittsburgh. He apprenticed with several local stained-glass studios before becoming a partner at Horace Rudy's studio around 1901. Horace Rudy was the father of noted Bucks County sculptor Charles Rudy. In 1902, Sotter left Pittsburgh and moved to Bucks County, Pennsylvania to study under Edward W. Redfield at the New Hope School of American Impressionism. Sotter also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia at this time. In 1903, Sotter participated in the annual exhibition at the Academy and he studied under William Merritt Chase and Thomas Anshutz there from 1905 to 1907.

In 1907 Sotter married fellow artist Alice E. Bennett (1883-1968) of Pittsburgh, whom he had first met while she worked as an assistant at Horace Rudy's stained-glass studio. After marrying, the Sotters traveled to Europe, studying art and painting various scenes. They also enjoyed painting in New England, especially in Rockport, Massachusetts. George taught design and painting at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) for nine years before he and his wife moved permanently to their home in Holicong, Buckingham Township, Bucks County, PA in 1919.

The Sotters lived and worked in a converted 19th-century barn in Holicong and they were both active in the Phillips Mill art colony in nearby New Hope, PA. George designed and created several stained-glass windows, many of which can still be found in cathedrals, churches, and monasteries throughout the country. Sotter's first documented windows, installed in the Church of the Epiphany in Pittsburgh as part of a 1910 renovation are simple, primarily geometric, and unassuming. Sotter's first noteworthy stained glass windows are in the Synod Hall and Chancery built in 1915 and adjacent to St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, seat of the Pittsburgh Diocese. The Sotters' most ambitious achievement is the Sacred Heart Parish windows (Shadyshide, Pittsburgh), 1930-1954.

Sotter developed a staffed operation that fabricated his famous designs. The stained-glass studio Sotter ran in his stone barn employed, at times, up to 15 people, including Valentine D'Ogries, Forrest Crooks and Edward Byrne, who helped with the Sacred Heart Parish windows. Sotter also painted a number of marine pictures and landscapes with cloud-filled skies, but his best known paintings were scenes of moonlit winter nights. George also painted several versions of the home of his friend and fellow artist, Charles Hargens, located in nearby Carversville. Although Hargens specialized in illustrating scenes of the American West, he in turn, painted many versions of the Sotter home. Alice Sotter was known for her floral paintings and assisting George with stained-glass work. She exhibited her work in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. George passed away in 1953 and Alice in 1968.


Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio. "George William Sotter." Accessed September 13, 2016.

James A. Michener Art Museum. "Alice Sotter." Accessed September 16, 2016.

George Sotter papers, 1930-1954, consist of Sotter's sketchbooks; negatives and slides of Sotter's work; reference materials, drawings, oversized cartoons, and layouts for stained-glass window designs; and correspondence. There are also some New Hope Art Associates minutes, 1939-1942.

There are some sketchbooks from Alice Sotter in the collection. There are sixty oversized stained-glass window cartoons (used for glass placement and as a painting guide) for Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA. The Sacred Heart Parish windows are the Sotters' most ambitious achievement, designed and made between 1930 and 1954, and completed by Alice Sotter after her husband's death in 1953. The windows are the culmination of five years of study and experimentation, including trips to cathedrals and churches in England and France.

A more detailed finding aid, biographical note, or inventory for this collection may be available on-site or on the Michener Archives finding aid page:

The main part of the collection was gifted to the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives by C. Williams Hargens on January 12, 2007. A second accession of cartoons was received by the Archives in 2015 from the grandchildren of Charles Hargens, Jr.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact James A. Michener Art Museum Archives directly for more information.

James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories using information provided by the James A. Michener Art Museum Archives
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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