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Wiedmann's Christmas story

by Daniel Rossa The Annunciation scene between Mary and Gabriel, described by me elsewhere, is followed by the path from Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, the silhouette of which only moves past the viewer in the background.


Jesus' birth in the (indicated) stable follows. To the right is a wooden post from which something like a lantern hangs; on the left the writing "Jesus" indicates the stable as a wooden shed. Buch_Jesus_Christus_Seite_022 The "U" forms the trough of the manger into which Jesus was placed as a newly born baby, as Lk 2,7 tells. However, the diapers mentioned there are missing here. To this end, Wiedmann had the common, albeit unbiblical, duo, ox and donkey, appear here in multiple versions. Directly above the naked boy, against the dark of night, the figure of a Janus-headed Joseph who keeps watch over Jesus stands out: disgruntled, with a slightly grayish face and somehow a bit squat, he looks back at the picture book into the past, a little from his posture more upright in an uncertain future. Josef's Janus-headedness certainly refers not only to both directions of the timeline, but also reflects his inner constitution, his state of mind. Because Joseph, who himself “came to a child like a virgin”, you can see his inner turmoil, his “confusion” right here. What is he supposed to believe? What is he supposed to do? The star hovering over the scene, which Wiedmann took from Mt's Christmas story about the magicians (cf. Mt 2,7-10), is accordingly not intact, but hangs "in tatters". Mary, to the left of Joseph, can only be seen with her head and neck, completes the picture of the Holy Family.


To the right of the wooden post of the stable, Gabriel once again rules his office: "Gone with the wind" - and therefore quite fitting, because the Hebrew expression "Spirit of God" (ruach ha-Elohim) can also mean something like "very strong wind" - he proclaims the birth of the Redeemer to the frightened, still sleepy shepherds. The shepherd in the left corner of the scene points up at Gabriel with an outstretched finger; Gabriel, for his part, points with his hand in the direction of the subsequent scene of the shepherds at the stable. Their sticks are more like spades pointing upwards and are reminiscent of an equally erect tool in Wiedmann's scene about Cain's fratricide. The following scene not only shows the shepherds at the stable: the magicians from the east have also already arrived.


Wiedmann, following popular tradition, depicted her with a crown or headdress in the foreground below the star, now formed into a shooting star, which led her to Mt (2.2.9f.). Two of them stretch out their hands in the direction of the crib where they are holding the presents they have brought with them. In this picture, Jesus' nativity scene is designed differently than in the first nativity scene: The (triangular) angular, colorful surfaces from which it is composed are reminiscent of the abstract surfaces in Wiedmann's depictions of the creation stories, which God's blessing or his judgment “( very) good ”(Gen 1,10.12.18.25.28.31) to symbolize his creation. In this representation of the born Jesus, Wiedmann allows God's good will towards his creation to shine through again in a similar way.


The large crowd at the crib is followed by a short representation of a scene in the countryside: A woman is sitting at a harp in a garden with a stream, a tree, a white deer (?) And a lamb (?). This is not reported in either Mt or Lk. Wiedmann's presentation could, however, be understood as an illustration of a note from Luke: "But Mary kept all these words and moved them in her heart." (2.19)

Shortly before, such a paradisiac garden scene appears: Immediately between the scene that I would interpret as the conception of Jesus and the depiction of Gabriel's Annunciation to Mary, a woman sits between two pegasoi next to a lamb and surrounded by white birds in one Garden landscape.


This scene is unbiblical, but could also be understood as an interpretation of the inner movement of Mary. The talk of Mary moving the words of the shepherds about her Son in her heart also makes Mary's inner movement clear. Wiedmann transforms it again into a contemplative garden scene. With this observation, in my opinion, the hypothesis can be corroborated that Wiedmann's paradisiac garden scenes, which indeed represent decidedly unbiblical, were used by him to give expression to this inner movement.



Incidentally, not only a woman and a lamb-like animal appear here as there: Birds also reappear in the second garden scene described here: They leave them - as "migratory birds" as it were - together with the Holy Family, who are to be seen next the flight to Egypt (cf. Mt 2: 13-15): Note the blazing sun in the cloudless sky, the yellow sand, the obelisk and the scarab on the lower left edge of the image.


In the last image unit, what can be seen on the right above the Egyptian obelisk and looks a bit like the profile of one of the four large Ramses statues from Abu Simbel, goes over into the back of the head of the bitter-looking King Herod, who looks after the three wise men who “return to their country by another route” (Mt 12), because God has finally given them a healthy distrust of Herod (cf. Mt 2:12). - In fact, the magicians mistrusted Herod for a reason: For below this “farewell scene”, Wiedmann shows in the literal sense how Herod lets small children “jump over the edge” for two years (cf. Mt 2:16). The staggering of these (seven?) Blades painted by Wiedmann is eerily reminiscent of the arrangement of the blades on a cucumber grater or in the interchangeable heads of modern razors from Gillette & Co. which are shed by the grieving mothers (?), sometimes with their hands clasped in front of their faces. Underneath, and practically forming the body of one of the “mothers”, eight blonde faces are arranged, which are surrounded by something reminiscent of Gabriel's abstract wings. It is worrying that under most of these little faces there is a red line. Elsewhere, Wiedmann uses such red lines through his neck or body to indicate that someone was beheaded, something was slaughtered or sacrificed. At the end of the Christmas story, does Wiedmann represent the dead children as innocent but beheaded angels?