Käthe Kollwitz, The Sacrifice, sheet 1 of the series »War«, 1922, woodcut, Kn 179 IX c, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

The first folio shows a woman giving her child as a sacrifice. The woman is naked and thus without protection. Her eyes are closed, which illustrates that she is giving her child blindly, i.e. unknowingly, as a sacrifice. In this work, Käthe Kollwitz expressed her own situation at the beginning of the First World War, as she tried to force herself to reach an inner acceptance of taking on the burden of the sacrifice.

After her son Peter had fallen in 1914 she created the presumably first work on the »War« series as a drawing which shows a woman bending over her infant that she cradles in her arms. She presses her face closely to that of the child. The strong emotions of the mother are reflected in the characteristic style of the drawing. The raised right arm gives the impression that the woman does not want to sacrifice her child for the war. This is more strongly expressed in this work than in the final version. The last two sheets in the series further illustrate this stance.

CONTEXTUAL WORK

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman, standing, pressing her Infant to her Face, 1915, charcoal on grey colouring paper, fixed with shellac, NT 722, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman, standing, pressing her Infant to her Face, 1915, charcoal on grey colouring paper, fixed with shellac, NT 722

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