Tomb relief, bronze, 352.5 (h) 321.8 (w) 87 (d) mm, Seeler 30 III.B.1.
In the last decade of her life, Käthe Kollwitz created several tomb reliefs. The first one was made at the request of her sister Lise, to whom she was very close, after the death of her husband. »Lise asked me to make a sculptural work for the family tomb. It would be wonderful if I could do it. But it is difficult«, she wrote in a diary entry of April 1934, shortly after the burial of her brother-in-law.
At that time, the family tomb accommodated the graves of her brother Konrad and his wife Anna and was to accommodate the graves of the Sterns and of herself and her husband. The tomb is located in the Friedrichsfelde cemetery in Berlin.
When the artist began work on the relief in summer 1935 she seemed more optimistic:
Now I’ve started working on it. I am really rather surprised that funereal art is so neglected. You just have to start and explore the theme and then the motifs will come rushing at you.«
Käthe Kollwitz, Diaries, summer 1935
Käthe Kollwitz describes the work as »two big, motherly hands wrapping the departing figure in a cloak«.
The title she chose is a quote from Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s poetry anthology »West-Östlicher Divan« of 1819:
God is the East!
God is the West!
Northern and southern lands
Repose in the peace of his hands.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, West-Eastern Divan,
first stanza of the poem ›Talismans‹