Need, sheet 1 of the cycle »A Weavers’ Revolt«, 1893-1897

Crayon and pen lithograph with scratch technique, Kn 33 II

Käthe Kollwitz, Need, sheet 1 of the cycle »A Weavers’ Revolt«, 1893-1897, chalk and pen lithograph, scraper and scraping needle, Kn 33 II, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

The first folio confronts the observer with the silent despair of a mother who bends over her sick child that already bears the stamp of death. The child lies in the only bed of the weaver’s family in a room that serves as a workroom, living room and bedroom. The child’s head with its wax-like pallor, sunken eyes and protruding chin already resembles a skull. Another woman in the background is seen holding her child on her arm. The infant has put a finger into its mouth to still its hunger. This gesture highlights the great economic misery of the weavers.

The theme of the terminally ill or dying child was widespread in the art of the 19th century. Max Klinger’s »Misery« and »Woman at an empty Cradle« may well have inspired Kollwitz for this sheet.

STUDIES, PREPARATORY DRAWINGS

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman, seated, with arms raised in sorrow, detail study for the first version of the lithograph »Need«, 1895, pen and ink, NT 116, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman, seated, with arms raised in sorrow, detail study for the first version of the lithograph »Need«, 1895, pen and ink, NT 116

Käthe Kollwitz, preparatory study for »Need«, 1893, pen and black ink, washed, black and brown chalk, white highlights, NT (116a), Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, preparatory study for »Need«, 1893, pen and black ink, washed, black and brown chalk, white highlights, NT (116a)

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