Before its completion in 1936, the group »Mother with two Children« went through a long artistic gestation period. The mother-and-child theme in sculptural works had repeatedly occupied the artist from 1910 onwards, although she never executed any of these drafts. Initially planned as a mother figure with a child, this version was inspired by the birth of Käthe Kollwitz’ granddaughters Jördis and Jutta (*1923), so that she added a second child to the group. »[…] meanwhile the twins had been born and ever since I saw you – a child in each arm – it was clear to me that I had to add another child to the group«, the artist wrote, looking back, in a letter to Ottilie and Hans on 15 July 1937.
The sculpture’s outlines are cubic and show a mother squatting on the floor, literally melting her figure and those of her children, whom she clutches in a strong, protective embrace, into one single block. The composition is characterised by its round shapes and all the body parts are reduced to their abstract essentials.
Designed as a nude sculpture, this group is a metaphor of archaic maternal love – for Käthe Kollwitz the strongest feeling that can be experienced. This essential emotion is , however, always connected with the fear of losing one’s children.
Käthe Kollwitz, The Twins, 1923, black chalk on chamois-coloured paper, NT 999
Käthe Kollwitz, Mother, clutching two Children, 1932, charcoal , NT 1232