Heinrich Hoffmann

Spinning Room in the Black Forest, undatiert

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Four women are working on spinning wheels, another group is engrossed in conversation. They are all wearing traditional folk costumes. The young woman with a plait on the right edge of the picture is wearing the traditional red »Bollenhut« or pom pom hat typical of the Gutach folk costume for unmarried young women, whereas the woman standing at the front is wearing a black hat with roses signifying her married status.
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Here, as in Going to Church in the Black Forest, the Heidelberg painter Heinrich Hoffmann depicts a scene of traditional life in the Black Forest. This painting was probably created as a pendant to the other one, for the two pictures are almost identical in size and resemble one another in their horizontal composition. The painting shows eight women gathered in a large room, perhaps an inn. Four of the women sit on wooden chairs and work on spinning wheels, spinning wool into thread, while the other four stand in the room and watch the spinners work. All the figures are dressed in traditional costume, and the woman on the right wears the trademark “Bollenhut,” a traditional style of hat. Gutach, a town on the Black Forest Railway, was one of three villages in the Black Forest where traditionally on festive occasions, unmarried women would wear a straw hat with red woolen pompoms. When a woman married, she would exchange this headdress for a hat with black pompoms. Thus the unmarried women were immediately identifiable when they entered the church. Since this tradition was common only in Gutach and two other Protestant villages in the Black Forest, we may assume that Heinrich Hoffmann painted this work in Gutach, a village that was already attractive to many painters due to the artists’ colony there. This picture was probably painted at the local inn, where the artists met and where the inhabitants of the village, dressed in their traditional costume, often served as models for the painters. TILMANN VON STOCKHAUSEN (Transl. MELISSA THORSON)

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