Auguste Schepp

Old Farm Couple at Table, undatiert

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An old farmer and his wife sit together in their humble kitchen, the table is laid for supper. The woman seems to be reading something to her husband while he sits with hands are folded as if in prayer. This could be the evening prayer of the table, an important ritual for Black Forest farmers who ranked their individual piety highly.
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Auguste Schepp and Ida Maier are two women artists represented in this catalogue. Schepp was known for her drawings of interiors and still lifes, though she also drew figural scenes. She lived in various cities including Berlin, Düsseldorf, Vienna, and Paris, until she finally arrived in Freiburg im Breisgau. There she painted many pictures of the Freiburg Minster and characteristic scenes from the nearby Black Forest. This work shows one of these scenes. An old farm couple sits together at table. The woman turns toward her husband at an angle; she holds a book in her hand and reads, while the man folds his hands in prayer. The table is set, and a crucifix hangs in the corner of the room. The woman’s gaze is directed toward the man; she seems to be reading something aloud. Her husband, on the other hand, bows his head and looks prayerfully at the table. He seems pensive, almost a little helpless and distraught. For the viewer, the farm woman is easier to see and seems the more dominant figure. The farmer, on the other hand, recedes a little into the background, since he turns away from the viewer. The two look old and fragile, and their appearance and the furnishings of the sitting room seem poor and drab. The scene suggests a prayer before the evening meal, a practice that was of great importance for family gatherings. In the Black Forest as elsewhere, families were dependent on good harvests and their animals for their livelihood; thus it was a matter of course to pray before every meal and give thanks for the food. MELISSA MAGGIORE (Transl. MELISSA THORSON)

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