Inspiration, 1904

Line etching, drypoint, reservage, sandpaper and soft ground with imprint of laid paper, Kn 86 VII d

Käthe Kollwitz, Inspiration, 1904, line etching, drypoint, reservage, sandpaper and soft ground with imprint of laid paper, Kn 86 VII d, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

The folio »Inspiration«, created in 1904 is a rejected version for the third sheet of the »Peasants War« cycle – »Sharpening the Scythe«.

Behind the peasant woman, we see a crouching, allegorical male figure. The wings of the figure indicate that he is in the tradition of inspiration personified for which there are models in both Christian and secular art. Käthe Kollwitz’s etching shows the figure whispering into the peasant woman’s ear. His left hand, clenched into a fist, is pressed down on the woman’s shoulder. His right hand is placed on the woman’s hand that clutches the shaft of the scythe as if she wanted to use it herself in the battle. Käthe Kollwitz intended to demonstrate that the peasant woman had had an inspiration.

The scarily sinister aspect of the figure may later have made the artist decide to leave it out as she wanted to represent the Peasants War as the legitimate struggle of an oppressed group of people. Kollwitz eventually decided not to use allegorical figures in her »Peasants War« cycle.

PREPARATORY DRAWINGS

Käthe Kollwitz, Inspiration, 1904/1905, charcoal on Ingres paper, NT 296, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Inspiration, 1904/1905, charcoal on Ingres paper, NT 296

Käthe Kollwitz, Inspiration, 1904/1905, black chalk, NT 297, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Inspiration, 1904/1905, black chalk, NT 297