Beginning in the 1830's, large numbers of German immigrants began arriving in Texas. Political discontent and economic turmoil in the Palatinate states, promoted by successive years of crop failure, encouraged a diaspora of German farmers and village artisans to many areas in the United States. Texas, during its years of independence from 1836 to 1845, held the lure of cheap land although not always in a hospitable geography or climate. Nevertheless, by the mid-1850's, approximately 35,000 German settlers had populated an area stretching from northwest of present day Houston to San Antonio and Austin. Columbus, Texas, the location of this watercolor, is located in the lower Brazos(River)-Colorado(County) area at the beginning of the west Texas Hill Country and like the neighboring towns of Frelsburg, Millheim and New Ulm had a distinctive teutonic character.
Cotton was the principal agricultural export of Texas, and as elsewhere in the south required slave labor to achieve large-scale production and economic success. The German settlers tended to be small-scale farmers, mechanics and craftsmen and generally were against slavery. The cotton-picking scene depicted here was therefore most likely recorded by a German immigrant as an informational device to be sent home to relatives and friends. In addition to the brief German inscription of the title, the painting was discovered and consigned from Germany.