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German History in Documents and Images
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Visit to the Protestant Pastor's House for Baptism (1828)
German Protestant churches recognize only two of the seven sacraments administered by the Catholic Church: baptism and Holy Communion. This lively scene of a christening at a Protestant pastor’s house suggests that religious rites generated a sense of community among parishioners, thereby meeting both social and ecclesiastical objectives. In the painting below, parishioners have gathered in preparation of a baptism; they socialize and exchange gifts in the comfortable atmosphere of a living room. The image is largely consistent with the values of the Biedermeier period of the 1820s and 1830s, an era in which members of the middle class turned away from civic and political engagement in favor of a more inward focus on the private and domestic spheres. Oil on metal sheet by Johann Baptist Pflug (1785-1866), 1828.