Käthe Kollwitz, The Widow I, sheet 4 of the series »War«, 1921/1922, woodcut, Kn 175 V b, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Against a light background, the figure of a young, pregnant woman holds her hands over her bulging body in a protective gesture. Her husband’s death has left her behind, alone and abandoned. The drawn-down corners of her mouth show her grief, while her head, helplessly tilted to one side, reveals her need for protection.

Käthe Kollwitz began this work as an etching, but referred to it as unsuccessful. She also rejected a later, lithographic version of the theme.

In the two earlier works, the pregnant women are depicted with empty, open hands as a sign of their perplexity, and in the lithograph the woman’s shoulders are drawn up. By contrast, the compositional coherence of the woodcut makes the pregnant woman appear more focused on herself and her unborn child and thus points towards a new life.

REJECTED VERSIONS

Käthe Kollwitz, The Widow, rejected first version of sheet 4 in the series »War«, 1918, line etching, sandpaper and soft ground with imprint of ribbed laid paper, Kn 138 I, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, The Widow, rejected first version of sheet 4 in the series »War«, 1918, line etching, sandpaper and soft ground with imprint of ribbed laid paper, Kn 138 I

Käthe Kollwitz, The Widow I, rejected third version of sheet 4 in the series »War«, 1920, crayon lithograph, Kn 152c, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, The Widow I, rejected third version of sheet 4 in the series »War«, 1920, crayon lithograph, Kn 152c

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