House Blessing

Artist/maker unknown, 18th century, German

Made in Augsburg, Germany, Europe

c. 1775

Watercolor and ink on laid paper

15 1/2 × 13 1/2 inches (39.4 × 34.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Joan and Victor Johnson, 2009

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Pious requests for God’s blessing on one’s family, house, and farm are among the popular subjects found in Pennsylvania German drawings and prints now known as fraktur. (This name derives from the “fractured” look of the medieval-style lettering used in these works.) Heart motifs, which symbolize spiritual and familial love, are also commonly seen in fraktur as well as in other Pennsylvania German objects.

The text within the large heart on this German house blessing, which served as a model for American-made versions, professes the family’s faith and imparts their plea for the care and protection of their household. The texts in the twelve surrounding hearts offer subjects for spiritual meditation and guidance. In the heart labeled Zwei (Two) at upper left, for example, the admonition translates: O Man! Two paths are shown to you by Jesus: Go the narrow one, dear child! That will carry you to heaven. He who likes the wide path will go to hell with the world.