Mothers and Children

Children play an important role in the work of Käthe Kollwitz. Being a mother was one of her central life experiences. The artist discussed her difficulties in reconciling her professional activities with her family life with the writer Lou Andreas-Salomé. She said that marriage and children had priority and an artist who did not enjoy both would wither away – both as a human being and an artist. In a conversation with her son Hans she summarises in 1926 as follows:

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There are three things that have been of importance in my life – having had children, a faithful life-long companion and my work.«
Käthe Kollwitz, Letters of Friendship

Looking at the order in which she mentions these things, it does not come as a surprise that her work comprises many depictions of her children and grandchildren. Käthe Kollwitz also addressed the fundamental experience of being a mother, which includes the fear of losing her children or leaving them behind after her own death.

Works

Käthe Kollwitz, Child’s Head, en face, (Hans Kollwitz), 1893, brush and grey ink, washed, NT 72, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Child’s Head, en face, (Hans Kollwitz), 1893, brush and grey ink, washed, NT 72

Käthe Kollwitz, Hans, Summer in Fiascherino, July 1907, pencil on paper, NT 424, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Hans, Summer in Fiascherino, July 1907, pencil on paper, NT 424

Käthe Kollwitz, Peter in his Bed, reading, c 1908, pencil on drawing paper, NT 444, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Peter in his Bed, reading, c 1908, pencil on drawing paper, NT 444

Käthe Kollwitz, Mother with a Child in her Arms, final version, 1916, crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 136 A II, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Mother with a Child in her Arms, final version, 1916, crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 136 A II

Käthe Kollwitz, Worker Woman with Sleeping Child, 1927, crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 234 I c, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Worker Woman with Sleeping Child, 1927, crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 234 I c

Käthe Kollwitz, Two Chatting Women with Two Children, final version, 1930, crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 250 c, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Two Chatting Women with Two Children, final version, 1930, crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 250 c

Käthe Kollwitz, Three Boys playing Marbles, 1909/1910, black chalk, NT 582, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Three Boys playing Marbles, 1909/1910, black chalk, NT 582

Käthe Kollwitz, Two Children at the Bannister, c 1927, charcoal on faded drawing cardboard, NT 1149, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Two Children at the Bannister, c 1927, charcoal on faded drawing cardboard, NT 1149

Käthe Kollwitz, Family Group, c 1928, charcoal, blotted, on Ingres paper, NT 1184, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Family Group, c 1928, charcoal, blotted, on Ingres paper, NT 1184

Käthe Kollwitz, Mother with Child over her Shoulder, before 1917, bronze, Seeler 15 I.B.3., Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Mother with Child over her Shoulder, before 1917, bronze, Seeler 15 I.B.3.

Käthe Kollwitz, Mother with two Children, 1932-1936, bronze, Seeler 29 I.B.6., Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Mother with two Children, 1932-1936, bronze, Seeler 29 I.B.6.

Address

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