Votive pictures are painted petitions and thanksgivings

Votive pictures are small-format works of art that have been painted on wood, canvas, sheet metal, paper or behind glass. They have existed from the late Middle Ages to the second half of the 19th century. The votive pictures contain the requesting or thanking person the so-called Voters, the occasion of the vote and the holy patron.

The picture is usually provided with “ex voto”, which means “because of vow” and the year of existence. Votum comes from latin and means the vow, the prayer, the wish. Some of the pictures were painted by the voters themselves, mostly by professional painters or craftsmen at the pilgrimage site.


The votive pictures tell of despair, faith and hope. The contents are naive visual representations of diseases, accidents, natural forces and generally difficult times such as wars and epidemics. They are witnesses of humility and gratitude. Each picture stands for a fate that was entrusted to a heavenly power that was invoked.


The votive pictures are characterized by flatness, often lack of perspective and unrealistic proportions. Texts tell about those involved, provide more detailed information about fate and reveal more about how people thought and felt.

Even Expressionist artists such as the artist group “Der Blaue Reiter” dealt with votive pictures.