Earlier this week, as I walked to work, seeing my breath in front of me with my hands stuffed in my pockets, noticing that the trees were mostly bare, I had to admit to myself: winter just might be here. But part of me doesn’t want to dig out the winter coat and put away the flip-flops. I’m channeling my split-season-personality in this post by featuring two works in our Von Schleinitz collection of German art, which live right next to each other in Gallery 9.
Dance Under the Linden Tree by Ludwig Knaus, above, is a favorite among our school groups. This huge party scene shows a vast array of people of all ages, from children rolling along the grassy expanse to village elders sharing wisdom over a pint. The Linden tree was both a gathering place and a civic meeting place for nineteenth-century German villages, and served an important role in daily life. I can’t help but think of our own festivals here in Milwaukee, from ones as large as Summerfest to weekly neighborhood music events like Jazz in the Park or Chill on the Hill, where people of all ages come together to enjoy the rich culture of our city and its fleeting summer.
This painting’s neighbor, and stark opposite, is Ernst Ferdinand Oehme’s Messein in Winter, right, in which you can almost feel the chilly winter air gusting around your face and hear the soft crunch of packed snow on the path as townsfolk hurry home. Last year, one of my Satellite students chose this work as the subject of his final presentation. He talked about how the warm glow of the bay window made him think of a nightlight his mother had given him, which reminded him of home. This painting’s cozy window, a respite from the still, snow-covered night, takes me to a place of holiday relaxation, of spending time in front of fireplaces with your family and a big mug of hot chocolate. Oehme’s quiet contrast between the outdoor cold and the warmth indoors makes me think I can make it through the start of winter–at least until the gray days of February, when I’m sure I’ll start wistfully posting springtime paintings here.
What are your favorite seasons-inspired paintings in the Museum, and what memories do they evoke for you?