Charles Hofmann was the creative elder of a generational group of painters who rendered bright views of the almshouses in Pennsylvania's Berks and Schuylkill Counties while seeking shelter during bouts of alcoholism and destitution. Hofmann introduced a compositional format that was visually related to chromolithography and adopted by his followers Louis Mader (1842–c. 1899) and John Rasmussen (1828–1895). Although the almshouses were far from hospitable, Hofmann nevertheless presented a vision of order and healthy activity in the precise renderings of the Berks County Almshouse and the surrounding properties that he executed between 1865 and 1882. That vision may have been an effort to please the trustees and staff members of the facilities, who often commissioned the paintings and whose names appear in cartouches below.
Hofmann also produced around six landscape views. This is one of three paintings of Wernersville, a small town about eight miles from the Berks County Almshouse. John B. Knorr, a local undertaker and cabinetmaker, commissioned the painting in 1879, the same year he was appointed clerk of the Almshouse. Hofmann captured the Knorr family strolling along the foreground as well as preeminent features of the pristine landscape, including the steeple of Hains Church, their place of worship.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Wernersville, Taken from the North-Side," exhibition label for ALSO ON VIEW: Selections from the Collection. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.