Restrike Etching on Paper
1890s.. Sheet 4 from the cycle A Weavers' Revolt
Image size: 8.5 X 12 inches. Unsigned, printed on heavy, felt-finish, cream wove paper, 10.5 X 14.7 inch sheet. Published by Alexander von der Becke between 1946 and 1961, with the 2-line "Muenchen-22" blindstamp at lower right corner of the image.
Fine condition - unframed
Provenance: Purchased in Silton Sask. by Russell Yuristy.
Käthe Kollwitz, original name Käthe Schmidt (born July 8, 1867, Königsberg, East Prussia [now Kaliningrad, Russia]—died April 22, 1945, near Dresden, Germany), German graphic artist and sculptor who was an eloquent advocate for victims of social injustice, war, and inhumanity.
The artist grew up in a liberal middle-class family and studied painting in Berlin (1884–85) and Munich (1888–89). Impressed by the prints of fellow artist Max Klinger, she devoted herself primarily to graphic art after 1890, producing etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, and drawings. In 1891 she married Karl Kollwitz, a doctor who opened a clinic in a working-class section of Berlin. There she gained firsthand insight into the miserable conditions of the urban poor.
Kollwitz’s first important works were two separate series of prints, respectively entitled Weavers’ Revolt (c. 1894–98) and Peasants’ War (1902–08). In those works she portrayed the plight of the poor and oppressed with the powerfully simplified, boldly accentuated forms that became her trademark.
In early 1893, Kollwitz attended a private showing of Gerhart Hauptmann's play The Weavers in Berlin. The play was based on a historical uprising of Silesian workers in 1844, in which the workers decide their lot is intolerable and rally at the mansion of their employer. He calls in the military and in the scuffle that results, a stray bullet kills an old man who had opposed the uprising. There is no easy or happy conclusion, and the play ends on this note. By basing her graphic cycle on this infamous work, Kollwitz established herself as an artist concerned with the downtrodden. The images of this cycle confront the difficult themes of poverty, infant mortality, violent rebellion, and retaliatory slaughter. The images were not intended to illustrate the play, but rather to create a parallel and self-sufficient visual text so that even those unfamiliar with the play could understand the continual struggle of the worker. Kollwitz began work on A Weavers' Rebellion in 1893, and exhibited the six images of the series five years later. The complete cycle of six works is: three lithographs (‘Poverty’, ‘Death’, and ‘Conspiracy’) and three etchings with aquatint (‘March of the Weavers’, ‘Riot’, and ‘The End’). They are a free and naturalistic expression of the workers’ misery, hope, courage, and, eventually, their defeat.