Self-portrait, 1926-1936

Bronze, Seeler 26 I.B.3

Käthe Kollwitz, Self-portrait, 1926-36, bronze, Seeler 26 I.B.3, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

The design of her only three-dimensional self-portrait, which took more than a year to complete, almost drove Kollwitz to distraction. In December 1928 she wrote in her diary:

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At the moment I’m working on my sculptural self-portrait, cursing and ranting (…). But I can’t let go. Every day ends with a new illusion and the next day begins with angry depression.«
Käthe Kollwitz, Diaries, 30 December 1928

Research results on the first catalogue raisonné of Käthe Kollwitz’ sculptural work, published in March 2016, show that this is one of only three verifiable casts that were made during the artist’s lifetime. At the time of the »Gussgeschichten«-exhibition in spring 2016, the location of this copy was not yet known. It was only half a year later that it was unexpectedly auctioned in the US where it was possible to acquire it as a desideratum by the Cologne Kollwitz Collection.

This is now the only existing cast in Germany the creation of which Kollwitz supervised personally, which gave her more influence on the expression of the work and above all on its mounting angle. For this reason, early casts give an upright and self-confident impression, while posthumous casts, which are mounted on the plinth with a slight downward angle, make the artist appear old and tired.

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