»From many wounds you bleed, oh people«, 1893-1897

Line etching, drypoint, aquatint and burnisher, Kn 32 II

Käthe Kollwitz, »From many wounds you bleed, oh people«, planned as the final sheet in the cycle »A Weavers’ Revolt«, but not included in the series, 1893-1897, line etching, drypoint, aquatint and burnisher, Kn 32 II, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz’ original plan was to include the symbolist etching »From many wounds you bleed, oh people« as the final sheet in her cycle. This etching was stylistically influenced by Max Klinger. The quotation using the present tense shows that Käthe Kollwitz intended to allude to topical problems in her »Weavers« cycle.

This is also highlighted by the figure of the avenger who is seen leaning on his sword. It was intended as an allegorical figure of the Revolution heralding the liberation of the people. The victims are symbolised in the figures of the two pinioned women and the dead body in front of the avenger who gently touches the wound in the side of the fallen man.

The formal allusion to Hans Holbein’s (1497-1536) »Christ entombed« in the figure of the dead man and to the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus in the figures of the women should be seen in the context of Kollwitz’ worldview and of the secularisation of society. This made it possible to use the life and death of Christ as a symbol of the suffering of individuals or entire population groups.

The figure of the avenger can only be understood in the context of the critical appreciation of Hauptmann’s drama of compassion by young social democratic intellectuals, above all Käthe Kollwitz’ brother Konrad Schmidt. In a review of »The Weavers« production at the Freie Volksbühne theatre, he criticised the desolate ending of the play and complained that, unlike in Zola’s novel »Germinal« there was no prospect of revenge.

PREPARATORY DRAWING

Käthe Kollwitz, »From many wounds you bleed, oh people«, 1896, pencil on white laid paper, NT 122, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, »From many wounds you bleed, oh people«, 1896, pencil on white laid paper, NT 122

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