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Tower of Mothers, 1937/38

Leopold Museum,
28.3×26.9×28.1 cm


  • Käthe Kollwitz

    (Königsberg in Prussia/Kaliningrad1867–1945 Moritzburg)

Currently on display at UG1
The personal traumatic experience of a mother who lost the younger of her two sons in 1914 as a victim of one of the first battles of the First World War, reverberates in the oeuvre of the empathetic artist Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945). Starting in 1922, in her visionary woodcut cycle War, she heralded the emergent dangers of yet another political collapse. In the closed form of the round sculpture Tower of Mothers of 1937/38, female figures stand together forming a protective wreath around their children with their bodies to ward off dangers looming from outside, but probably also prevent internal threats: Käthe Kollwitz’s son Hans had volunteered for frontline service. Significantly enough, the bronze sculpture, cast 1938 to Kollwitz’s designs, was removed by the Nazis from the Berlin show in the Atelierhaus on the grounds that in the Third Reich mothers did not need to protect their children because this was done for them by the state. As a trained graphic artist, Kollwitz was pained by self-doubt when it came to creating sculptures. Her long-standing friendship with the sculptor Ernst Barlach (1870-1938)—also an anti-fascist—provided her with guidance in finding artistic solutions.

Object data

  • Käthe Kollwitz
Tower of Mothers
28.3×26.9×28.1 cm
Credit line
Private Collection Vienna
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).
  • Frauenbilder – Künstlerinnen – 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Vom Biedermeier bis zur Moderne, hrsg. von Elisabeth Leopold, Wien 2017 (Ausstellungsbroschüre, Leopold Museum, Wien, 07.07.2017–18.09.2017).
  • Werner Timm: Käthe Kollwitz, Berlin 1974.
  • August Klipstein: Käthe Kollwitz. Verzeichnis des graphischen Werkes für die Jahre 1890-1912 unter Verwendung des 1913 erschienenen Oeuvre-Katalogs von Prof. Dr. Johannes Sievers, Bern 1955.
Catalogue raisonne
  • Timm 1974: 55

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Provenance research
Leopold Museum i

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