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Bernard Badura

(New Hope, Pennsylvania 1896 - 1986)

A resident of New Hope, Pennsylvania, Bernard Badura is best known as the framer for New Hope Impressionist artists including Daniel Garber and Edward Redfield. Some people aren't aware that he was also a painter. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1896, Badura studied at the Milwaukee Normal School with George Oberteuffer and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with Arthur Carles and Daniel Garber. His future bride, Faye Swengal, studied there as well. Badura was awarded several honors while at PAFA, including the Cresson European Traveling Scholarship in 1924. This scholarship took him to Paris where he met with a gilder for the first time and became intrigued with this obscure, yet time-honored craft. This chance meeting was to have a profound influence on the rest of his life.

Badura began to learn the techniques of frame-making from another Bucks County artist, Frederick Harer. Badura, known as Ben, lived and worked with Harer for a year after he left the academy. Harer was a great influence on many artists in the area, as he not only made and designed picture frames, but also was a printmaker who taught others the craft. Harer took a great deal of time to design, carve and gild using the traditional techniques. This was undoubtedly the basis for influencing Badura's frames over the next 50 years.

Under the wing of Harer, Ben developed a sense of good frame design. Harer however, was quite secretive about many of the techniques he employed. Upon Harer's death, it was Ben who took over, thereby creating his own legacy. In 1932, during the depth of the depression when times were hard for a young artist, Badura established a picture frame business on Ferry Street in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He soon earned a reputation among artists and collectors alike as one of the most creative individuals in the business.

Although Badura was earning a reputation as a frame-maker, he remained more of a painter than a frame maker. While keeping his frame shop, he continued his plein-air painting. Economic pressures forced him to give up his precious painting time. More and more he became dependent on the consistent income from his steadily growing frame business. He continued producing frames for nearly half a century.

Badura worked in many mediums, including stained-glass. He produced a number of commissions for churches in Pennsylvania. He was a splendid painter who was included in important invitational and juried museum shows. His work was purchased for the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Allentown Museum of Art.

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