May 13, 2014–January 8, 2017

Religious Text with Spiritual Chimes for Elisabeth Geissinger

Artist unidentified Messengers

Probably Bucks County, Pennsylvania


Watercolor and ink on paper

12 7/8 x 15 7/8"

Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York

Gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2005.8.42

Photo © John Bigelow Taylor, New York

Artist unidentified

Related Material

Religious Text with Spiritual Chimes for Elisabeth Geissinger

Fraktur was a private art, an arrangement between a minister or schoolmaster and a particular family or family member. It was not typically displayed but was instead cherished for private contemplation. The spiritual dimensions of fraktur are expressed through the texts, which, more often than not, had little to do with the imagery. An exception is the imagery of the spiritual chimes, which specifically illustrates the metaphor of time referenced in the texts. This example was made for Elisabeth Geissinger shortly before her forty-ninth birthday, in 1803. The words provide prayers to be recited a seach hour chimed and correspond to the hour from “one thing needful” through the twelve prophets and apostles, and many evoke the passage of time and the hour of death. A last petition is provided that can be spoken at any time of the day.

Stacy C. Hollander, “Religious Text with Spiritual Chimes for Elisabeth Geissinger,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.