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George H. Trautmann

Wisconsin Metalworker in Chicago

Wisconsin native George H. Trautmann was born in 1873 and studied mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he earned a degree in 1896. Shortly thereafter, Trautmann moved to Chicago, settling in the Ravenswood neighborhood on the city’s North Side. Through experiments in his home studio and with the aid of private instruction, Trautmann developed exceptional metalworking skills. His facility with copper was particularly noticeable and various items in the Arts & Crafts style were part of annual exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1909, 1910, and 1912.

Fine Arts Building Studio with Christia Reade

Trautmann’s copper lamps with mica shades were his signature works, but he also fashioned attractive jewelry, candlesticks, bowls, and sconces, for which he sometimes used brass instead of copper. From 1913 to 1917, Trautmann shared a studio with Christia Reade, a skilled designer and metalworker, in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building, which was a hub for several successful artisans in the early decades of the 20th century. In 1914, Trautmann and Reade together won a Municipal Art League Prize. The following year Trautmann was awarded honorable mention at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

Later Years in Ohio, Wisconsin, and California

Toward the end of World War I in 1917, Trautmann moved to Lebanon, Ohio to serve as the Captain of Ordnance in the Officers’ Reserve Corp. He married Ella S. Brison in 1918 and they moved to Wisconsin after the war. Trautmann originally met Brison during his time at the Fine Arts Building, where she also worked. Back in Wisconsin, Trautmann returned to his academic roots and made a living as an engineer until the couple retired to Los Angeles. Trautmann passed away in 1955 and Brison in 1970.

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George H. Trautmann
George H. Trautmann
George H. Trautmann
George H. Trautmann