Get our newsletters

HISTORY LIVES: Thomas P. Otter, Artist (1832-1890)


Thomas P. Otter, Artist (1832-1890). A resident of Philadelphia, “Thomas Proudley Otter trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was one of the first artists to sketch, paint, and photograph Bucks County’s scenery in a realistic and detailed style. (Shown here is Otter’s The Palisades at Nockamixon, the high cliffs overlooking the Delaware River where it intersects with Gallows Run.) In 1864, Otter’s Winter Landscape was among a collection of paintings presented by Abraham Lincoln to the actress, Charlotte Cushman, to commemorate her efforts during the Civil War. After the Civil War, Otter moved to New Britain and then settled in Doylestown (in 1870), where he taught art at the Linden Female Seminary. His work was used for illustrations in W.W.H. Davis’ History of Bucks County. Along with Henry Mercer, he helped found the Bucks County Historical Society.”

He also worked as an engraver and a botanist who reportedly discovered two new plant species in the county.

“Otter’s work as a painter remained relatively obscure, until a renewed interest in his work in the late 1970s revealed the artistry of an otherwise quiet, unassuming man. In 1976, his best-known painting, On the Road, went on tour in the Smithsonian Institute’s exhibit entitled America as Art. In 1978, his work received a retrospective at the Mercer Museum.”

Source: Bucks County Artists Database,

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.