|~ The Mother in Law ~
By Steve R. Johnston
I found this amusing and thoughtful stein on Ebay recently and thought it it
would make for a nice paragraph in Prosit. I was struck by it’s thoughtful
symbolism and its honest appraisal of the mother-in-law relationship.
The transfer on this circa 1870’s lid seems to state a universal truth regarding
the stature and influence-if not downright obstructionist nature of a mother-in-law.
Looming large and immoveable, the stone-like, edentulate mother-in-law rests in
the casket-like citadel of her making. With, walls crumbling around her, she
lies unchanged and immovable in her resolve.
On a mountainous pass, hewn from stone, the children hastily attempt to exit-circumventing the obstructive, and perhaps oppressive parent. A rather amusing abstract image, acknowledging, the rigid nature of parents and in-laws, hardened by the hammer of time.
The story could end there, but like any great art, the artist yields to a greater truth. Careful to give the matriarch her due, the artist concedes status through age and experience.
A giant, unwavering in character and inspiration -- an idol of sorts, from her vantage point,
the mother-in-law can see the vast landscape, well aware of the roads that lead to fulfillment
and despair. The children will trundle down the dusty road of life always to look back and
see “Mother Mountain” on the horizon.
Hardly the work of an artistic amateur, examples such as this signal the beginning of a new German art form. No longer content with the traditional genres of “Defregger” or religious expression, these artists dug deep and pulled out an art form that would transfix the world for the next sixty years. In this adventurous lid design, we get just a glimpse of one of the seedlings that would give life to the giant of German art.