Gretchen, 1899

Line etching, drypoint, aquatint and burnisher, Kn 45 IV

Käthe Kollwitz, Gretchen, 1899, line etching, drypoint, aquatint and burnisher, Kn 45 IV, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Probably inspired by the cycles of her great role model Max Klinger that she saw during her studies in Munich, Käthe Kollwitz explored again and again gender related issues at the beginning of artistic career. In these works she focussed, just like Klinger in »A Life« and »A Love«, above all on the situation of women.

Unlike Klinger, however, Käthe Kollwitz based her representation of the difficult situation of a girl who has fallen on hard times as a result her pregnancy on a literary model – the figure of Gretchen from Goethe’s Faust. She created a number of impressive drawings and prints on this theme.

The etching »Gretchen« shows the heavily pregnant girl on a bridge looking down at the vision of a figure – Death – crouching on the ground and tenderly hugging an infant. What Gretchen ›sees‹ is the only way that she thinks will lead her out of her predicament – to entrust her unborn child to Death.

CONTEXTUAL WORKS

Käthe Kollwitz, At the Church Wall, 1893, line etching, drypoint and brush etching, Kn 17 III, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, At the Church Wall, 1893, line etching, drypoint and brush etching, Kn 17 III

Käthe Kollwitz, A Woman’s Plight (Martyrdom of a Woman), c 1889, pen, brush and ink, washed, on laid paper, NT (17a), Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, A Woman’s Plight (Martyrdom of a Woman), c 1889, pen, brush and ink, washed, on laid paper, NT (17a)

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