Trying to process his failed relationship with Alma Mahler (1879–1964), Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980) created several cycles of graphic works, including the series of lithographs on Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685–1750) cantata O Eternity, Thou Word of Thunder
. Kokoschka illustrated Bach’s allegorical dialogue between fear and hope with eleven renderings, with himself embodying hope and the role of fear ascribed to Mahler. Driven by fear, hope embarks on a journey that ends in death. The scenes can be interpreted biographically, as Kokoschka repeatedly alluded to past events from his life. For the last work in the series Pietà (“It Is Enough”)
, the artist revisited the pictorial formula of the Pietà and thus referred back to the poster, conceived in 1909, for his play Murderer, the Hope of Women
. Rather than rendering the female figure as a deadly femme fatale
, however, Kokoschka stylized the woman as a mourning Lady of Sorrows bearing Mahler’s traits in this depiction.