An der Wassern Babylons, by the German artist Gebhard Fugel, depicts the setting of Psalm 137: 'By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept...how could we sing Yhwh's song in a foreign land?' (vv. 1, 4). Exiles from Judah line the banks of a river, and multiple harps can be seen in the background.
Psalm 137 moves between the collective and singular voice, from “we remembered Zion” (v. 1) and “our captors demanded of us words of a song” (v. 3) to “Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you” (v. 6). Perhaps this is why Fugel chose to highlight one character in the centre of the picture: amid the mourning crowd, one figure lifts his eyes upwards, as the lighting on his hand and face set him apart.
The majority of Fugel’s work concerned biblical and Christian themes, including his 136 so-called Schulwandbilder (school wall paintings). This work was painted around 1920.
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