Karl Hauptmann

Black Forest Farmhouses in a Winter Landscape, 1926

About the object

Hauptmann often idealises landscape in his paintings. He produced many works for the tourist market, where representations of this kind were popular. In this snowy idyll, he romanticises everyday life for the people in winter. However, in reality the working day was often long and arduous and was beset by hardship.
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Like Hermann Dischler, Karl Hauptmann was one of the “snow painters” of the Black Forest. In his pictures Hauptmann presents a romantic image of the uplands and idealizes the landscape. Here he shows scenery with heavy snow and two typical Black Forest houses with low-hanging roofs. In the foreground, a stream flows through the snowy meadow. In contrast to Dischler’s motifs, however, signs of human life are visible here: smoke climbs from the chimney of the farmhouse in front. Yet it still seems as if, amidst the heavy snow, life has come to a halt and a peaceful silence has descended. During the long winters the inhabitants of isolated Black Forest farms still had to care for the cattle in the stalls, but otherwise had plenty of time for other tasks. Often the family gathered in the sitting room to pursue various activities and produce objects that could be sold during the summer months, such as straw hats or clocks. Hauptmann’s painting also clearly records the cultivated landscape of the Black Forest: the steeper slopes are forested, while the more level expanses are used as pasture where livestock are kept in summer and hay is made. Hauptmann’s romanticized images of the Black Forest reinforced the tourism that emerged in the early 20th century and embraced the region as a cultivated landscape in harmony with nature. Hauptmann produced his works quite intentionally for the tourist market. Often his pictures were brought back as souvenirs from journeys to the Black Forest and thus found their way to other regions of Germany. TILMANN VON STOCKHAUSEN (Transl. MELISSA THORSON)

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