Line etching, drypoint, sandpaper and soft ground with imprint of ribbed laid paper and Ziegler's transfer paper, Kn 81 VIII a
During her work on the 6th sheet of the »Peasants War« cycle, Käthe Kollwitz made several drawings that she used in preparation for the sheet »Woman with Dead Child« which she decided not to use for the cycle, but to create the colour lithograph »Pietà« (Kn 77, see below) and this etching. Both works were eventually published as individual sheets and are among the most poignant creations of the artist.
A letter from Käthe Kollwitz to Arthur Bonus reveals that the artist used herself and her youngest son Peter as models for this composition.
When he was seven years old and I was working on the etching ›Woman with dead Child‹, I did a drawing of myself, holding him on my arm, in front of the mirror. That was very exhausting and I groaned. Then he said in his little child’s voice: Stop groaning, mum, it is going to be very beautiful…«
Arthur Bonus, Das Käthe-Kollwitz-Werk, 1925
Hans Kollwitz, the artist’s elder son, associated the death of his younger brother Peter who fell in the war with these two picture series:
I asked mother where she got the image of the mother with her dead child from – years before the war – which featured in almost all her pictures from that period. She thought she foresaw Peter’s death even then. She said she had been crying while working on these images.«
Hans Kollwitz, Letters of Friendship and Encounters, 1966
Käthe Kollwitz, Woman with dead Child, 1903, charcoal on yellowish Ingres paper, NT 234a
Käthe Kolwitz, Pietà, 1903, crayon and brush lithograph in two colors, with scratch technique on the drawing stone, Kn 77
Käthe Kollwitz, Mother and dead Son, 1903, black chalk, NT 247