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Taufschein of Scharlotta Meier

Three Kings Artist
Place Made:
Frederick County Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
ink and watercolor on paper
HOA: 16 5/16; WOA: 13 3/4
Accession Number:
Taufschein for Scharlotta Meier. Ink and watercolor on laid paper. In addition to the birth and baptismal information and religious verses, this piece includes nativity scenes, decorative lunettes, flowers, vines, and illuminated letters in reds, blues, greens and yellows with script in black ink. All of the text is in German executed in Gothic lettering.
FRAME: Modern.

Nativity Scene Captions:
[Far left: In the palace:] Schreiber / Herodes (Scribes / Herod)
[Above the shepherds:] Fürchtet euch nicht siehe ich verkündege euch grosse Freude die allen Volk wider fahre wird. (Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people)
Hir / ten (Shepherds)
[Below the figures of the angels:] Ehre sie Gott in der Höhe. Frie/den auf erden, und den menschen ei/Wohl gefallen. (Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth, and to all those whom he favors.)
[Above the three Kings:] Drey Könige (Three Kings)
[Far right, in the stable:] Maria / Joseph (Mary / Joseph)
Central text:
Scharlotta ist geboren im Jahr Christi 1783 den 13ten January und ist bey der heilige Tauf in die gemeine und als eine grüne re /be an de[n Wein]stock Christi den 6ten July 178[3] sich vertribeb worden. / Eltern sind der Ehesame Christoph Meier und dessen ehFrau anna Margretha, und nahmen zu Tauf zeugen. / Tauf zeügen sind der Johannes Chroneis und dessen eh Frau haben ihr den namen bey gelegt Scharlotta
Scharlotta was born in the year of Christ 1783, the 13th January, and was brought to the holy baptism in the congregation as a green vine on the vinestock of Christ on the [6]th July 1783.
Parents are the married couple Christoph Meier and his wife, anna Margaretha, and they took witnesses. / The Witnesses: Johannes Chroneis and his wife, they have laid on her the name Scharlotta.
Poem 1: [line marks are those of poem lines, not as broken on this work]
In Gott getreü halt seinen bund / o mensch in deinem Leben / leg diesen Stein zum ersten grund, / bey ihm allein ergeben / / denct an den Kauf in deiner Tauf / da er sich dir verschreiben, / bey seim eyd in Ewigkeit / als Vater dich su lieben. // Bey gott getreü lass keinen wind / des Kreuzes dich ob kehren, / ist er dein vater, du sein kind, / was wilt du mehr begeben. // dich hochste gut macht rechten muth / kan seine huld dir werden. / [nahts schrift] mein lieber Christ / im himel noch auf erden.
Translation: O man hold your bond in trust throughout your life, lay this stone as the main ground, given by him alone, think on the purchase in your baptism, since he has signed himself to you by his oath eternally to love you as a father. Be true to God, do not let any wind sweep you from the cross. If he is your father, you his child, what more do you want? This highest good give you the proper courage. There is nothing better my dear Christ, in earth or heaven.
Poem 2 – [In the lunettes, beginning to the right of the word “Immanuel”]
Jesu lob mich meine Jugend / Bringen zu in wahrer Tugend / Lass mich in der from– / ihn zu suchen meine Freud / Jesu lass mich fleissig Lernen / von den Bosen ganz entfernen / Lass mich wachsen o mein hort / Zu dem guten fort und fort / endlich fuhr mich auf dem leuten, / zu dir in die ewige Freude / dorten will ich Loben dich / O mein Jesu Ewiglich / dorten soll mein lob erschallen / –engel gottes allen / dorten werd ich verklärt staen / und dich meinen Jesum sehn / Immanuel.
Translation: Jesus, let me conclude my youth in true virtue. Let it be a joy to me to seek him in piety. Jesus let me diligently learn to be far from evil. Let me grow, O my refuge, more and more to goodness. Finally lead me out of suffering into eternal joy. There will I praise you, O my Jesus, eternally. There my praise shall echo from all God’s angels. There will I transfigured stand and see you, my Jesus, Immanuel.
The verses in the surrounding lunettes are found in an Evangelical German Children’s catechism published in Augsburg, 1740, p. 188, Prayer #62.
Schul Büchlein auf Obrigkeitl. Verordnung, fürnehmlich für die Evangeliche Jugend in des Deutschen Schulen in den Heil. Röm. Reichs Stadt Augsburg von neuem Verfasset / Augsburg zu findem ini Mertz = und Mayerischen Buchladen, 1740.

Related objects: Taufschein of Scharlotta Meier’s daughter, Anna Beierle (MESDA 2798). Note the transition between generations shown in these two works. The earlier work is hand-drawn and colored in a style reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts, while the later one is a printed and mass-produced form with added names and coloring.
A second Taufschein for the November 14, 1794 birth of Elisabetha Hembe (parents, Henrich and Margaretha Hembe and witnessed by Elizabetha Brunnerin) with identical format, verses, and ornamentation contains an inscription stating: “Der Geburts ist in Friedrich Caundy in der Provienz Marialand.” [This birth is in Frederick County in the Province of Maryland]. Source of the family names: Records of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Frederick, MD. Private Collection.

Artist/Maker: Both this fraktur and at least two others by this same anonymous artist include scenes of the Nativity including the figures of Mary and Joseph, angels and shepherds, Herod and his scribes, a large star, and the three kings (Drey Könige). Because of this unique feature, the artist has been given the working name of the “Three Kings Artist.” It is probable that this artist was influenced by the Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania schoolmaster Johann Carl Scheibeler who worked for a time in Frederick County, Maryland where he is recorded as witnessing two baptisms in 1777 and 1778.
Similarities between the Three Kings Artist’s works and Scheibeler’s works include the use of the prominent heading “Immanuel” (God with us), large illuminated letters, and a border surrounding the central text consisting of lunettes containing verses and interspersed with flowers. Scheibeler’s work differs from the work of the Three Kings Artist in several ways including Scheibeler’s more elaborate and artfully drawn floral ornament, abundant calligraphic flourishes, controlled Gothic lettering, and mosaic-like centers for the border lunettes.

This Taufschein by an unknown artist records the January 13, 1783 birth and July 6, 1783 baptism of Scharlotta Meier, listing her parents, Christoph and Anna Margarethe Meier, and the witnesses of her baptism, Johannes Chroneis and his wife. Although no location is recorded on this piece, Scharlotta’s birth and baptism are recorded in the records of the Evangelical Reformed Church of Frederick, Maryland. Another Taufschein by the same hand and dated 1794 lists Frederick County, Maryland as the location of that birth.
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. William Petree