The Prisoners, sheet 7 of the cycle »Peasants War«, 1908

Line etching, drypoint, sandpaper and soft ground with imprint of fabric and Ziegler's transfer paper, Kn 102 IX a

Käthe Kollwitz, The Prisoners, sheet 7 of the cycle »Peasants War«, 1908, line etching, drypoint, sandpaper and soft ground with imprint of fabric and Ziegler's transfer paper, Kn 102 IX a, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

This last motif in the cycle had not been included in the original plan, which was to complete the narrative with the scene of mourning for the fallen men. Eventually, however, Kollwitz decided to choose the image of the captured, yet surviving peasants as the final sheet. She evidently wanted to point out that the conflict is not over and rebellion may break out again at any time. This is probably the intended message of the pair of eyes – just to the left of the central axis in the second row – giving the observer a black look from under knitted brows.

Both sheets 6 and 7 of the etching cycle »Peasants War« contain pictorial elements from the originally planned, symbolical final sheet of »A Weavers’ Revolt« (»From many wounds you bleed, oh people«). This sheet also contains figures of captives – bound female figures – as well as a stooping figure reaching out to touch a dead body, as in the »Battlefield« folio. This makes it clear that the »Peasants War« cycle, too, presents the conclusion of the events in a two-sheet format. The artist intended to convey a similar message and evidently wanted to emphasise that it is imperative to make sure that social justice is ensured to avoid another outbreak of violence.

STUDIES AND PREPARATORY DRAWINGS

Käthe Kollwitz, The Prisoners, 1906/1907?, charcoal on brown paper, NT 425, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, The Prisoners, 1906/1907?, charcoal on brown paper, NT 425

Käthe Kollwitz, Captured Peasants, 1908, charcoal on laid paper, NT 432, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Captured Peasants, 1908, charcoal on laid paper, NT 432

Käthe Kollwitz, drawing modelled on Peter for »The Prisoners«, 1908, charcoal on white Ingres paper, NT 436, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, drawing modelled on Peter for »The Prisoners«, 1908, charcoal on white Ingres paper, NT 436

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