Karl Hauptmann

Autumn, um 1910

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Just as autumn presages the end of a year, the motif of impermanence resonates in this painting, recognisable by the autumn trees in the foreground. Hauptmann regarded himself as an artist whose duty was to capture the historic buildings and traditions of the Black Forest in his paintings and thereby counteract the transience of life.
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In addition to winter landscapes, Karl Hauptmann frequently painted scenes showing other seasons as well. Above all, he repeatedly painted the typical Black Forest farmhouses—as seen in this work showing a farmhouse in a rolling landscape on a gently sloping meadow. The wooden structure is supported by a ground floor of masonry that probably accommodated the cattle stalls. The half-hipped roof with its wide eaves was intended to protect the house from the wind and weather and above all from the weight of the winter snow. In the foreground are two fruit trees that have already lost their leaves, while a crooked wooden fence marks the edge of a vegetable garden. Just as autumn points toward the end of the year, a feeling of transience pervades this image, though overall it still conveys a romantic impression. In his work as a Black Forest painter, Karl Hauptmann was very aware that the Black Forest of the 19th century with its historic buildings and traditions could not ultimately survive. Many traditional Black Forest farms fell into disrepair as people were forced to move to the cities due to insufficient agricultural yields. Rural life in often remote locations was harsh; usually there was neither electricity nor running water. Yet despite these disadvantages, many farms in the Black Forest still operate today, since dairy products from cows kept in mountain pastures are in particular demand. The farmers of the Black Forest, however, cannot compete with modern agriculture and thus often fulfill the role of landscape caretakers, helping to preserve a cultural landscape. TILMANN VON STOCKHAUSEN (Transl. MELISSA THORSON)

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