Sharpening the Scythe, sheet 3 of the cycle »Peasants War«, 1908

Line etching, drypoint, sandpaper, aquatint and soft ground with imprint of laid paper and Ziegler's transfer paper, Kn 88 X b

Käthe Kollwitz, Sharpening the Scythe, sheet 3 of the cycle »Peasants War«, 1908, line etching, drypoint, sandpaper, aquatint and soft ground with imprint of laid paper and Ziegler's transfer paper, Kn 88 X b

The third sheet in the cycle addresses the growing determination of the peasants to put up resistance only by showing the half-length image of an old peasant woman who takes a break from her work of sharpening the scythe. The observer, facing the woman eye to eye as a result of the narrow image detail, sees the menacing facial expression with the knitted brows and her eyes, narrowed to a slit, and is made aware that the woman clearly seeks revenge for the in justice suffered by the peasants. The sharpening of the scythe is a foreshadowing of their readiness to start the revolt.

The process of the work’s genesis again illustrates Käthe Kollwitz’ objective to focus on the essential in her treatment of the theme. While the first draft showed the woman in full length, the artist later left out the legs and eventually used a square format to depict only head, arm and torso of the woman, and the blade of the scythe.

STUDIES, PREPARATORY WORKS, PROOFS

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman with Scythe, rejected second version of the third sheet for the »Peasants War« cycle, 1905, etching and drypoint, sandpaper and soft ground with imprint of fabric, reworked with brush, pen and black ink, Kn 87 I, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman with Scythe, rejected second version of the third sheet for the »Peasants War« cycle, 1905, etching and drypoint, sandpaper and soft ground with imprint of fabric, reworked with brush, pen and black ink, Kn 87 I

Käthe Kollwitz, Sharpening the Scythe, c 1905, black and white chalk, pencil, NT (396a), Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Sharpening the Scythe, c 1905, black and white chalk, pencil, NT (396a)

Käthe Kollwitz, Sharpening the Scythe, fifth proof of sheet 3 for the »Peasants War« cycle, 1905, line etching, drypoint, sandpaper, aquatint, needle lines and soft ground with imprint of laid paper and Ziegler's transfer paper, Kn 88 V, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Sharpening the Scythe, fifth proof of sheet 3 for the »Peasants War« cycle, 1905, line etching, drypoint, sandpaper, aquatint, needle lines and soft ground with imprint of laid paper and Ziegler's transfer paper, Kn 88 V

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