Kathe Kollwitz

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Kathe  Kollwitz Kathe Kollwitz- Beggar Woman and Child- Matthews Gallery
Beggar Woman and Child
Charcoal on white laid paper
24.5 x 18 in

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Kathe  Kollwitz

Kathe Kollwitz

Kathe Kollwitz Description

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) was born in Königsberg in the Province of Prussia (now known as Kalingrad, Russia). When she was twelve she began art studies and continued them later at an art school in Berlin.

In 1891 she married Karl Kollwitz who was a doctor whose practice tended to the poor in Berlin. She became acquainted with many of her husband’s patients and began to empathize with their plight. For the rest of her life the subject of her art was the peasants, laborers and workers that were marginalized by society. She wrote of her art:

"The motifs I was able to select from this milieu (the workers' lives) offered me, in a simple and forthright way, what I discovered to be beautiful.... People from the bourgeois sphere were altogether without appeal or interest. All middle-class life seemed pedantic to me. On the other hand, I felt the proletariat had guts. It was not until much later...when I got to know the women who would come to my husband for help, and incidentally also to me, that I was powerfully moved by the fate of the proletariat and everything connected with its way of life.... But what I would like to emphasize once more is that compassion and commiseration were at first of very little importance in attracting me to the representation of proletarian life; what mattered was simply that I found it beautiful."

When the Nazi party came to power in Germany she was forced to resign from her teaching position at an art academy and her paintings and drawings were removed from museums. Today however there are two museums devoted to her work, the Käthe Kollwitz Museum, Köln and the Käthe Kollwitz Museum, Berlin.

Check out the charcoal sketch in our collection.

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