From the “Death” Cycle: Death Holding Girl in His Lap, 1934
Leopold Museum, Vienna
From the “Death” Cycle: Death Holding Girl in His Lap 1934
Lithograph on paper
(Königsberg in Prussia/Kaliningrad1867–1945 Moritzburg)
Unfortunately not on display at the moment
Human suffering, poverty, war and death all inform the life-work of Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), who trained as a drawing and graphic artist in Berlin and Munich. Using the soft stroke of the lithography technique, Kollwitz creates the empathetic depiction of the dying child in darkish, monochromically articulated gloom. Hunched over, head sunk back, groaning, the tormented, emaciated figure rests in the lap of a dark-veiled figure. The child’s face is leaning against the black-shrouded head of Death. With reduced forms and concentration on the essentials, Kollwitz shows the child struggling for life in drastic detail with deep-set, closed eyes, protruding nose, and the half-open mouth contorted in agony. The eerie and unsparing depiction is representative of Kollwitz’s attitude, her commitment to humanism and pacifism. The subject gains presence in her oeuvre after the painful experience of the death of her second-born son in 1914 at the beginning of the First World War.