ZUR ERINNERUNG AN DEN WEIHNACHTSABEND IN MEMORY OF CHRISTMAS EVE, Carl LF Rumpf

ZUR ERINNERUNG AN DEN WEIHNACHTSABEND IN MEMORY OF CHRISTMAS EVE, Carl LF Rumpf

1821 France

Offered by Charles Plante Fine Arts

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This charming memento of a happy and apparently bountiful Christmas Eve in a German house, possibly in Frankfurt-am-Main, is at once appealing and curious. Who are the adults and can they really have such a male-dominated brood around them? There is only one small girl apparent amidst the festivities and the whole setting suggests an institute such as a school or orphanage. However, all the children are well clad in a variety of elegant garments, naively depicted by one of their own number, perhaps. The split view to the right showing the arrival of more celebrants is a wonderful childish device, as is the lovingly detailed depiction of the presents and toys on offer. They may well be choristers in a cathedral school awaiting the midnight service and the services of Christmas Day. It is the German custom to celebrate Christmas Eve with presents.

The unadorned stark window with a view of a typical gabled roof and the staircase to the right could indicate a schoolroom or studio at the top of the house, which may explain the various backdrops with their pulleys and ropes in the rear of the picture. The furniture is of a basic nature, yet the wealth of presents and dress of the celebrants belies the poverty of surroundings. Certainly, the city of Frankfurt-am-Main held an assortment of artists named Rumpf in the nineteenth century, according to Benezit, so it is possible that this is a family Christmas. The dress of the men is indicative of the middle-class comfort, well wrapped-up against the cold. The picture is of the period of the famous portraits of Goethe at home, wearing similar indoor coats and standing upon the typical wide plank floors. In the background, a visiting woman has hung up her bonnet and is being assisted from her coat, there is no evident stove or oil lighting, only candles to warm the air and impart a Christmas atmosphere.
Nick Woodbridge
Mario Praz, An Illustrated History of Furnishing, London, 1964, p211, fig 181
Dimensions
Height 305.00 mm (12.01 inches)
Width 432.00 mm (17.01 inches)
Signed/Inscribed
Inscribed: Yes
Charles Plante Fine Arts

Charles Plante Fine Arts
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