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Pietà. Poster for the play Murderer, the Hope of Women for the Internationale Kunstschau, 1909

Leopold Museum Vienna,
© Fondation Oskar Kokoschka/Bildrecht,
Vienna 2022
Color lithograph on paper
125×82 cm


  • Oskar Kokoschka

    (Pöchlarn 1886–1980 Montreux)

  • Lithograph and print Albert Berger, Vienna
Unfortunately not on display at the moment
After Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980) had already caused a stir with the presentation of his poster design The Cotton Picker for the 1908 Kunstschau, his play Murderer, the Hope of Women sealed his reputation as “chief wildling”. Premiering on 4th July 1909 at the garden theater of the Internationale Kunstschau, the play caused a veritable scandal, seeing as Kokoschka flouted bourgeois conventions and staged the relationship between man and woman as a power struggle shaped by violence and sexual desire. Wishing to promote his play, the artist designed a poster: Drawing on Christian iconography, he used the popular motif of the Pietà. Rather than depicting the Mother of Christ as a mourning woman, however, Kokoschka rendered her as a deadly femme fatale, holding the blood-smeared body of Christ in her arms. The deliberately coarse writing emphasizes the rendering’s wild and brutal character. Today, both the poster and the play are considered a first climax of Kokoschka’s Expressionist oeuvre.

Object data

  • Design: Oskar Kokoschka
  • Print: Lithograph and print Albert Berger, Vienna
Pietà. Poster for the play Murderer, the Hope of Women for the Internationale Kunstschau
Art movement
Graphic work
Color lithograph on paper
125×82 cm
Typographically labeled
Credit line
Leopold Museum, Vienna, Inv. 2673
Inventory access
Contributed to the Leopold Museum-Privatstiftung in 1994
Selection of Reference works
  • Wien 1900. Aufbruch in die Moderne, hrsg. von Hans-Peter Wipplinger, Wien 2019 (Ausst.-Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, ab 15.03.2019).
  • Oskar Kokoschka. Expressionist, Migrant, Europäer, hrsg. von Cathérine Hug/Heike Eipeldauer, Heidelberg 2018 (Ausst.-Kat. Kunsthaus Zürich, 14.12.2018–10.03.2019; Leopold Museum, Wien, 06.04.2019–08.07.2019).
  • Kokoschka. Das Ich im Brennpunkt, hrsg. von Tobias G. Natter/Franz Smola, Wien 2013 (Ausst. Kat. Leopold Museum, Wien, 04.10.2013–27.01.2014).
  • Wien 1900. Sammlung Leopold, hrsg. von Diethard Leopold/Peter Weinhäupl, Wien u.a. 2009.
  • Alfred Weidinger/Alice Strobl: Oskar Kokoschka. Die Zeichnungen und Aquarelle 1897–1916, Salzburg 2008.
  • Die nackte Wahrheit. Klimt, Schiele, Kokoschka und andere Skandale, hrsg. von Tobias G. Natter/Max Hollein, München 2005 (Ausst.-Kat. Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 28.01.2005-24.01.2005; Leopold Museum, Wien, 31.05.2005-22.08.2005).
  • Hans Maria Wingler/Friedrich Welz: Oskar Kokoschka. Das druckgraphische Werk, Salzburg 1975.
Catalogue raisonne
  • Weidinger/Strobl 2008: 299
  • Wingler/Welz 1975: 31

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Provenance research
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