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Kollwitz, Käthe Schmidtlocked

German, 19th–20th century, female.

Born 8 July 1867, in Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia); died 22 April 1945, in Moritzburg Castle, near Dresden.

Engraver, sculptor, illustrator, draughtswoman.

Käthe Schmidt KOLLWITZ: signature or monogram

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Käthe Schmidt Kollwitz initially learned engraving with Rudolf Mauer and she went on to study painting and drawing in Berlin (in 1855) under Karl Stauffer-Bern and then in Munich (in 1888) under Ludwig Herterich. She received her training in sculpture at the Académie Julian during a stay in Paris in 1904, during which time she met Rodin and Steinlein. In 1907, she went to Italy. During her Italian sojourn, she was awarded the Villa Romana prize. In 1916 she exhibited her first sculpture, Two Lovers.

Sympathetic to the proletarian plight, she was active in student organisations and read authors like Ibsen, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and Zola who, by the standards of the time, were considered to be revolutionary. She was the first woman to enter the Preussische Akademie der Künste (Prussian Academy of Arts), where she held masterclasses in graphic art between 1928 and 1933. Having witnessed the injustices of the war, she opposed the politics of aggression of Nazi Germany, which resulted in her exclusion from the academy in Berlin; she was persecuted and threatened with arrest, and her works were withdrawn from galleries and museums. However, she remained in Berlin: ‘I wish to and must stay with the outcasts’. She was eventually evacuated to Moritzburg and was welcomed by Prince Ernst of Saxony, an admirer of her work. In 1937, on the occasion of her 70th birthday, an oppressed and silent Germany paid tribute to this inflexible woman: she received thousands of letters and telegrams. However, she was still banished from public artistic life.

Kollwitz engraved numerous plates, including: The Rebellion of the Weavers, a series of six prints begun in 1893, which was inspired by Gerhart Hauptmann’s drama and was shown for the first time at the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung in 1898; The Peasants’ War, a series begun in 1902 and finished in 1908; and then War and Proletariat.

She began to carry out her first sculptures in bronze in 1910. When her son fell in Flanders in 1914, she did the sketches and plans for a War Memorial, which was to consist of a couple of parents in the simple eloquence of their mourning; begun in 1914 and not finished until 1932, it was titled Mourning Parents, a monument in granite erected in Essen cemetery, near Dixmude in Belgium. She also executed, in poster-form, engravings on the theme of war-induced devastation: Our Children Are Hungry (1918) and Help the Russians (1921). She worked from 1934 to 1936 on a final series of engravings entitled Death. A similar inspiration – or, rather, rebellion – animates her Tower of Mothers of 1937, in which a group of robust women in a rage squeeze their children in a gesture of refusal to allow them to enlist in the war. The same theme pervades her later works, such as her Pietà of 1938. She contributed to the political-satirical magazine Simplicissimus and illustrated Gerhart Hauptmann’s The Weaver in 1897.

In 1947 the Musée Boymans in Rotterdam organised a retrospective of her work including both reproductions of her sculptures and numerous prints. Other retrospective exhibitions included: in 1967, at Bethnal Green Museum in London; in 1975, in Florence; in 1981, in Hamburg; in 1988, in Milan; in 1992, at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; in 1995, Käthe Kollwitz, Pain and Guilt ( Käthe Kollwitz, Schmerz und Schuld), at the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Berlin; in 1997, Käthe Kollwitz: Etchings, Lithographs and Wood Engravings ( Käthe Kollwitz: Radierungen, Lithographien, und Holzschnitte), at the Das Museum in Schwerin (Germany); in 2003, Käthe Kollwitz: The Art of Compassion, at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, and Käthe Kollwitz: ‘I wish to work at this time...’ ( Käthe Kollwitz: ‘Je veux œuvrer en ces temps...’), at the Kunstmuseum in Bern.

Museum and Gallery Holdings

Berlin (Käthe Kollwitz Mus.)

Cologne (Wallraf-Richartz Mus.): Workman’s Wife (1903)

Toronto (AG of Ontario): Lamentation: In Memory of Ernst Barlach (bronze)

Auction Records

New York, 30 Nov 1960: Two Women (lead pencil) USD 250

Hamburg, 30 Nov 1963: Woman and Child (bronze) DEM 14,000

Hamburg, 9 June 1972: Seated Woman, Crossed Arms (pastel) DEM 26,000

Hamburg, 7 June 1974: The Mothers (1937, patinated bronze) DEM 11,000

Hamburg, 3 June 1976: Despair (1940, bronze relief, 10½ × 10 ins/26.5 × 25.3 cm) DEM 8,500

Bern, 10 June 1976: Self-portrait at the Table, Second Version (etching) CHF 5,000

Hamburg, 3 June 1977: Half-length Portrait of Working Woman in Blue (1903, coloured lithograph) DEM 7,400

New York, 16 March 1978: Despair (1938, reddish-brown patinated bronze relief, 11 × 10 ins/27 × 25.5 cm) USD 3,600

New York, 16 May 1979: Pietà (1937–1938, brown-patinated bronze, h. 15 ins/38 cm) USD 9,000

Munich, 31 May 1979: The Happy Mother (1931, lithograph/yellow-tinted Japanese paper) DEM 8,500

Munich, 27 Nov 1979: Mother and Child Lying Down (c. 1927, black chalk, 16½ × 23½ ins/42 × 60 cm) DEM 23,000

Cologne, 5 Dec 1979: Burial Vault of the Innocents (1904, pastel) DEM 2,800

Bern, 24 June 1981: Battlefield (1907, etching) CHF 5,000

New York, 4 Nov 1982: Farewell (brown-patinated gilt bronze, h. 7 ins/17.5 cm) USD 6,200

Munich, 29 June 1983: Saatfrüchte sollen nicht vermahlen (1942, lithograph) DEM 95,000

Munich, 28 Nov 1983: Two Women (1943, bronze, 8¾ × 10 × 7¾ ins/22.5 × 24.5 × 20 cm) DEM 36,000

Bern, 21 June 1984: Self-portrait at the Window (1900, watercolour/outlines in pen and ink heightened with Indian ink, 22¼ × 17¼ ins/56.5 × 43.5 cm) CHF 76,000

Cologne, 7 Dec 1984: Inn in Hamburg (1901, charcoal heightened with white, 14 × 16 ins/35.5 × 40.5 cm) DEM 54,000

New York, 15 May 1985: Dead Woman and Child (c. 1910, charcoal, 26 × 18¼ ins/65.1 × 46.4 cm) USD 31,000

Bern, 19 June 1985: Plowman with Woman Standing in Foreground (1905, etching) CHF 30,000

Bern, 19 June 1985: Seated Nude (c. 1900, pastel, 29½ × 21¼ ins/74.8 × 54 cm) CHF 43,000

Cologne, 31 May 1986: Tower of Mothers (1937–1938, dark brown-patinated bronze, h. 11 ins/28 cm) DEM 39,000

Hamburg, 12 June 1987: The Street (1908, charcoal and Indian ink, 13½ × 12½ ins/34.5 × 31.5 cm) DEM 30,000

New York, 12 May 1988: Affliction (bronze, h. 10¼ ins/26 cm) USD 13,200

Munich, 7 June 1989: Tower of Mothers (1938, bronze, h. 11¼ ins/28.5 cm) DEM 66,000

New York, 5 Oct 1989: Pietà (bronze, h. 15 ins/37.8 cm) USD 37,400

Amsterdam, 13 Dec 1989: Pietà (brown-patinated bronze, h. 15 ins/37.8 cm) NLG 25,300

New York, 3 Oct 1990: Mother with Two Children (charcoal/paper, 19 × 12½ ins/48.2 × 32 cm) USD 24,200

Heidelberg, 12 Oct 1991: Death Reaches into a Group of Children (1934, lithograph, 19¾ × 16½ ins/50 × 42 cm) DEM 5,000

Zurich, 16 Oct 1991: Mother with Her Dead Child (etching, 21¾ × 28¾ ins/55.5 × 73 cm) CHF 4,800

Munich, 26–27 Nov 1991: Grief (bronze, 10 × 9¾ ins/25.5 × 25 cm) DEM 28,750

New York, 12 May 1992: Pietà (brown-patinated bronze, h. 15 ins/38.1 cm) USD 39,600

Munich, 26 May 1992: Portrait of Servant with Blue Cloth (1903, coloured lithograph, 13¾ × 9½ ins/35 × 24 cm) DEM 2,300

Heidelberg, 9 Oct 1992: Mother with Child in her Arms (1916, lithograph, 11½ × 7½ ins/29 × 19.3 cm) DEM 1,250

Berlin, 27 Nov 1992: In the Dining Hall (sepia and charcoal heightened with white/brown paper, 16½ × 15¼ ins/42 × 38.5 cm) DEM 62,150

New York, 12 May 1993: The Sculptor Opanos (1928, charcoal/paper, 18½ × 26 ins/47 × 66 cm) USD 17,250

Amsterdam, 27–28 May 1993: The People (pencil/paper, 13¾ × 13¾ ins/35.2 × 34.9 cm) NLG 33,350

Paris, 11 June 1993: Self-portrait (1919, lithograph, 13½ × 11½ ins/34 × 29 cm) FRF 13,000

Zurich, 13 Oct 1993: A Pensive Woman (1920, lithograph, 15¾ × 12¾ ins/40 × 32.5 cm) CHF 2,400

London, 13 Oct 1994: Mother Carrying her Child on Her Shoulder (bronze, h. 18 ins/46 cm) GBP 20,700

Heidelberg, 15 Oct 1994: Woman by Cradle (1897, etching, 10¾ × 5¾ ins/27.6 × 14.5 cm) DEM 1,500

New York, 9 Nov 1994: The Parents (black ink wash heightened with white gouache, 16½ × 19¼ ins/41.9 × 48.9 cm) USD 33,350

London, 11 Oct 1995: Anxious Woman (1920, lithograph, 21 × 14½ ins/53.5 × 37 cm) GBP 2,300

Bern, 21 June 1996: Woman with Child in Her Arms (1926, woodcut heightened with white, 7¾ × 5¼ ins/19.6 × 13.2 cm) CHF 66,000

London, 9 Oct 1996: Pensive Woman (1920, lithograph, 23½ × 17½ ins/59.7 × 44.2 cm) GBP 4,370

New York, 12 Nov 1996: Embrace (brown-patinated bronze, h. 6¾ ins/17 cm) USD 8,050

Zurich, 12 Nov 1996: The Survivors (1922–1923, Indian ink and black chalk, 20 × 19¾ ins/51 × 50 cm) CHF 56,000

Paris, 10 Dec 1996: Tempest (1897, etching, 9¼ × 11½ ins/23.4 × 29 cm) FRF 4,000

Heidelberg, 11–12 April 1997: Mother with Child in Arms (1916, lithograph, 13 × 7¾ ins/33.3 × 19.5 cm) DEM 5,100

New York, 14 May 1997: Working Woman (charcoal/paper/card, 24¼ × 18½ ins/61.9 × 47 cm) USD 85,000

London, 9 Oct 1997: The Happy Mother (1931, lithograph, 9 × 12½ ins/23 × 31.8 cm) GBP 4,025

Paris, 19 Oct 1997: Hungry Children (1924, charcoal, 15 × 11 ins/38 × 27.8 cm) FRF 46,000

Hamburg, 12 June 1999: Portrait of a Working Woman (c. 1902, lithograph, 11 × 9 ins/27 × 24 cm) DEM 56,000

New York, 10 Nov 1999: Pietà (1938, brown-patinated bronze, 15 × 11 × 16 ins/38 × 27 × 40 cm) USD 40,000

New York, 11 May 2000: Arming Under an Arch (charcoal, 18 × 12 ins/46 × 31 cm) USD 35,000

Bern, 22 June 2001: Mary and Elizabeth (c. 1924, chalk, 13 × 15 ins/34 × 37 cm) CHF 75,000

New York, 8 Nov 2001: Pietà (brown-patinated bronze, h. 15 ins/38 cm) USD 32,500

New York, 9 May 2002: Large Lovers II (brown-patinated bronze, h. 28 ins/71 cm) USD 55,000

San Francisco, 14 Oct 2002: Self-portrait (colour lithograph, 19 × 13 ins/49 × 33 cm) USD 110,000

Munich, 5 May 2003: Gretchen (pencil over chalk, 9 × 7 ins/24 × 18 cm) EUR 52,000

Munich, 5 May 2003: Self-portrait (colour lithograph on board, 18 × 13 ins/45 × 33 cm) EUR 135,000

New York, 5 May 2004: Pietà (1937, brown-patinated bronze, h. 15 ins/38 cm) USD 35,000

Berlin, 26 Nov 2004: Two Chatting Women with Children (1928, etching, Indian ink and gouache, 9 × 8 ins/22 × 20 cm) EUR 27,000

Bern, 17 June 2005: Saatfrüchte sollen nicht vermahlen werden (1941, lithograph, 14½ × 15½ ins/37 × 39.5 cm) CHF 72,000

Berlin, 25 Nov 2005: Self-portrait (c. 1912–1915, charcoal, 18½ × 17¾ ins/47 × 45.2 cm) EUR 122,250

London, 6 Feb 2006: The Sigh (To the Memory of the Late Ernts Barlach) (1938, bronze with brown patina, 10½ × 10½ × 3½ ins/27 × 27 × 9 cm) GBP 96,000

Berlin, 26 May 2006: Pietà (1903, lithograph on cardboard, 18 × 24½ ins/45.7 × 62 cm) EUR 59,000

Berlin, 9 June 2007: Mother with Twins (1927–1937, bronze with brown patina, 30 × 33½ × 31½ ins/76 × 85 × 80 cm) EUR 154,700

Hamburg, 8 Dec 2007: Working Woman, Left Profile (1903, lithograph, 17½ × 13 ins/44.7 × 33.3 cm) EUR 17,000

Berlin, 31 May 2008: Study with Two Self-portraits (c. 1891, brush and pen on cardboard, 10 × 10¼ ins/25.1 × 26.1 cm) EUR 140,000

London, 25 June 2008: Inspiration (c. 1905, charcoal, pencil, and chalk, 23¼ × 17¼ ins/58.9 × 43.9 cm) GBP 32,450

Bern, 12 June 2009: Self-portrait with Three Hand Studies (before 1891, pen and ink and pencil, 19 × 8 ins/48 × 20 cm) CHF 320,000

Hamburg, 4 Dec 2009: Battlefield, pl. 6 (from Bauernkrieg) (1907, etching, 15½ × 20¼ ins/39.4 × 51.3 cm) EUR 40,000

Bern, 18 June 2010: Selbstbildnis, nach links – Sitzende Frau, mitaufgestützer Hand (c. 1924, charcoal on paper, 25½ × 17½ ins/64.8 × 44.5 cm) CHF 70,000; Frau mit Sense, pl3 (from Bauernkrieg) (1904–1905, etching and drypoint with ink and pencil, 14½ × 9 ins/37.2 × 22.5 cm) DHF 140,000

New York, 3 Nov 2011: Die Klage (The Sigh) (1938, bronze, h. 10½ ins/26.7 cm) USD 62,500

Hamburg, 2 Dec 2011: Pregnant Woman, Walking into the Water (1909, brush and pen and ink on paper, 21¼ × 13½ ins/54 × 34 cm) EUR 158,000

Munich, 27 April 2012: Two Men Fighting (study for etching) (1892, pen, ink, and brush on paper, 12¾ × 19½ ins/32.5 × 49.5 cm) EUR 52,000

Bern, 15 June 2012: Self-portrait with Head Resting on Hand – Hand and Garment Studies (study) (1891, pen, ink and pencil on paper, 13 × 16½ ins/33.3 × 42.2 cm) CHF 170,000

Berlin, 30 May 2013: Kneipe, pl.2 (from Bilder vom Elend) (1908–1909, charcoal on paper, 28 × 21¼ ins/71 × 54 cm) EUR 85,400

Berlin, 28 2013: Large Lovers II (1913, bronze w/brown patina, h. 28¾ ins/73 cm) EUR 50,000

New York, 6 March 2014: War (set of 7) (1923, woodcuts, 14¼ × 11¾ ins/36 × 30 cm) USD 52,500

Munich, 6 June 2014: Tower of Mothers (1937–1938, bronze w/brown patina, 11¼ × 10½ × 11.8 ins/28.7 × 27 × 29.9 cm) EUR 156,250

Bibliography

  • Klipstein, August: Käthe Kollwitz – Verzeichnis des graphischen Werkes, Klipstein, Bern, 1955.
  • Barlach, Ernst: Käthe Kollwitz, exhibition catalogue, Marlborough Fine Art, London, 1967.
  • Kollwitz, Hans: Käthe Kollwitz – Das plastische Werk, Wagner, Hamburg, 1967.
  • Prints and drawings of Käthe Kollwitz, Dover Publications, New York, Constable, London, 1969.
  • Zigrosser, Carl: Prints and Drawings of Käthe Kollwitz, Dover Publications, New York, 1969.
  • Nagel, Otto/Werner, Timm: Käthe Kollwitz – Die Handzeichnungen, Henschelverlag Kunst und Gesellschaft, Berlin, 1972.
  • Timm, Werner: Käthe Kollwitz, Henschelverlag, Berlin, 1974.
  • Klein, Mina C./Klein, H. Arthur: Käthe Kollwitz, Life in Art, Schocken Books, New York, 1975.
  • Hinz, R.: Käthe Kollwitz – Druckgraphik, Plakate, Zeichnungen, Elephant Press, Berlin, 1980.
  • Käthe Kollwitz. Die Zeichnerin, Kunstverein, Hamburg, 1980.
  • Hinz, Renate (ed.)/Lippard, Lucy (intro.): Käthe Kollwitz: Graphics, Posters, Drawings, Writers and Readers, London, 1981 (text in English and German).
  • Lauter, Estella: Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth-century Women, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1984.
  • Osterwalder, Marcus (ed.): Dictionnaire des illustrateurs 1800–1914, Ides et Calendes, Neuchâtel, 1989.
  • Whitford, Frank/Hartley, Keith: Käthe Kollwitz 1867–1945: The Graphic Works, exhibition catalogue, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, 1992.
  • Prelinger, Elizabeth/Comini, Alessandra/Bachert, Hildegard: Käthe Kollwitz, exhibition catalogue, Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 1992.
  • Käthe Kollwitz, Schmerz und Schuld, exhibition catalogue, Käthe Kollwitz Museum, Berlin, 1995.
  • Kollwitz, Hans (ed.): The Diary and Letters of Kaethe Kollwitz, Northwestern University Press, Evanston (IL), 1995.
  • Achenbach, Sigrid: Käthe Kollwitz, exhibition catalogue, Staatliche Museen, Berliner Kupferstichkabinetts, Berlin, 1995.
  • Käthe Kollwitz: Radierungen, Lithographien, und Holzschnitte, exhibition catalogue, Das Museum, Schwerin, 1997.
  • Knesebeck, Alexandra von dem: Käthe Kollwitz. Catalogue raisonné des gravures, Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 2002.
  • Thiem, Gunther/Rix, Brenda/Clarke, Jay: Käthe Kollwitz: The Art of Compassion, exhibition catalogue, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2003.