Wilhelm Hasemann

Portrait of the Clergyman Heinrich Hansjakob, 1907

About the object

The Catholic clergyman and popular writer, Heinrich Hansjakob (1837-1916) looks at us from out of the painting exuding both self-confidence and paternal benevolence - staged almost as though he were a patriarch. In spite of his romantic view of the homeland, which pervades his popular stories in keeping with popular traditions, Hansjakob repeatedly denounced social ills.
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In this portrait, Wilhelm Hasemann immortalizes the Catholic clergyman and writer Heinrich Hansjakob (1837-1916). The subject gazes confidently from the picture with a beneficent, fatherly expression. The priest is here depicted almost like a patriarch, though his clothing is plain and his authority is emphasized only by his black felt hat. The hat recalls the so-called “Hecker hat” worn by the Baden revolutionary Friedrich Hecker (1811-1881) in emulation of Italian revolutionaries. Hasemann illustrated numerous books by Heinrich Hansjakob and created paintings inspired by his works. In his folk tales, Hansjakob traced an image of the Black Forest in which, despite its romanticized view of home, social ills were also regularly denounced. Hansjakob had been politically active already as a priest in Hagnau on Lake Constance, and he helped found the first vintners’ union in Baden to provide better economic conditions for impoverished wine-growers. He also served as a delegate to the parliament in Baden for about ten years. From 1884 to 1913, Hansjakob was city pastor of the church of St. Martin in Freiburg. The rebellious clergyman repeatedly came into conflict with the state, and on more than one occasion even spent time in prison. He also took a less than serious view of his vows of celibacy and is said to have fathered four illegitimate children. Officially he lived his entire life in a household with his sister Philippina, from whose estate this painting and numerous other works came to the Augustinermuseum. Despite his great significance for questions of social reform, today Heinrich Hansjakob’s legacy must be viewed critically, since his texts often include obviously anti-Semitic statements. TILMANN VON STOCKHAUSEN (Transl. MELISSA THORSON)

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