Parisian Cellar Tavern, 1904

Coloured chalk on ochre-coloured Canson drawing cardboard, NT (277a)

Käthe Kollwitz, Parisian Cellar Tavern, 1904, coloured chalk on ochre-coloured Canson drawing cardboard, NT (277a), Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

While a visit to the dance cafés was part of every tourist’s programme on a visit to Paris, the cellar taverns in the district of the market halls were not mentioned in any tourist guide. Together with the German art dealer Wilhelm Uhde, who lived in Paris, Käthe Kollwitz visited these »dens of vice« that a woman would only dare to enter in the company of a man – if at all.

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I made her and the Russian anarchist Alexandra Kalmikoff happy by taking them to the cellars below the market halls with their low ceilings and outrageous graffiti. At that time they were still frequented by a truly dangerous clientele of criminals with whom the three of us got on very well, though, and who provided Käthe Kollwitz with much artistic inspiration.«
Wilhelm Uhde, From Bismarck to Picasso, Memories and Confessions, 1938

This coloured chalk drawing, which resurfaced as late as 1990, depicts the start of an altercation between two men in bold strokes. One of them has stood up, his fists clenched, and approaches the other man, who had fallen asleep at the table and now raises his head, turning it towards the attacker while a third person turns his head and looks at the two men in anticipation.

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Käthe Kollwitz, Sleeping Man at a Table, 1904, black chalk on white Ingres paper, NT 278a, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Sleeping Man at a Table, 1904, black chalk on white Ingres paper, NT 278a

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