Lamentation, 1938-1941

Bronze, Seeler 38 I.B.3.

Käthe Kollwitz, Lamentation, 1938-1941, bronze, Seeler 38 I.B.3., Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

When I ask myself what causes the strong impression that Barlach’s works have always had on me, I think it is – as he himself once put it – that ‘the outside is like the inside’. His work is on the outside as well as on the inside. Form and content match perfectly. This is the most convincing aspect of his work.«
Käthe Kollwitz, from: Words from Friends, commemorating Barlach, 1939

Ernst Barlach and Käthe Kollwitz are often mentioned in one breath. The mutual respect and artistic inspiration of these two congenial artists is manifest. Käthe Kollwitz travelled to Güstrow in October 1938 for his funeral. A month after the obsequies she noted: »I sometimes feel that Barlach has given me his blessing. I am able to work well.« (Käthe Kollwitz, diaries, November 1938)

In this entry she referred to the relief »Lamentation« on which she worked during that period. In a letter from 1941 Käthe Kollwitz commented on it and referred to the NS regime which had categorised Barlach’s work as »degenerate art«:


When I was making the Lamentation I was affected by Barlach’s death and the terrible injustice that he had suffered. This terrible injustice that people do to each other has continued during the three years [since Barlach’s death] and it is still going on …«
Käthe Kollwitz, Letters of Friendship, to Trude Bernhard, 1941

The face of the figure in mourning reveals, behind her hands, the artist’s features.


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