Käthe Kollwitz was »enchanted« by the French capital of art during her visits in 1901 and 1904. Paris was also the place where she found inspiration for her experimental, colour-dominated graphic art period.
In Paris she moved in the inspirational circle of her fellow student Maria Slavona’s bohemian friends that included famous artists such as Camille Pissarro and the art critic and writer Julius Meier-Graefe. Käthe Kollwitz strolled through private galleries and acquired an early pastel by Pablo Picasso and saw the works of the Neo-Impressionists and Nabis at the great art exhibitions.
Twice, she visited Auguste Rodin whom she admired. In a personal letter of recommendation, Hugo von Tschudi, director of the Berlin Nationalgalerie, had asked Rodin to receive the young German artist as a visitor. In this letter, he praised her talent and pointed out that she could be regarded as one of the best artists.
During her two-month stay in 1904, Käthe Kollwitz worked in the class for sculpting at the Académie Julian during the day, while visiting – like many other artists – the places of amusement and the infamous taverns below the Parisian market halls. The drawings of the Caveaux des Innocents are among the most impressive works from that period.
Käthe Kollwitz, Woman with Orange, 1901, brush lithograph with colouring stone in orange, etching (aquatint, reservage and drypoint) slightly edited with charcoal, cream-coloured paper laid on grey, blotter-like paper, Kn 56 II 2
Käthe Kollwitz, Worker Woman in Profile towards left, 1903, crayon and brush lithograph with scratch technique in brown on grey Japan paper, Kn 74 II a
Käthe Kollwitz, Bust of a Worker Woman with Blue Shawl, 1903, crayon and brush lithograph in two colors, with scratch technique in the drawing stone, printed blue, Kn 75 A I 1
Käthe Kollwitz, Parisian Cellar Tavern, 1904, coloured chalk on ochre-coloured Canson drawing cardboard, NT (277a)
Käthe Kollwitz, Caveau des Innocents, 1904, coloured chalk on brownish drawing cardboard, NT 275
Käthe Kollwitz, Two Men and a Pair of Lovers on a Bench, 1904, graphite and ink, white highlights on cream-coloured paper, NT (287a)