Käthe Kollwitz, The Widow II, sheet 5 of the series »War«, 1922, woodcut, Kn 178 VII c, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

The fifth folio of the series also shows a widow. In her despair she has taken her own life and that of her child. She lies prostrate in the foreground, her head fallen back, with her infant lying face down across her chest.

Käthe Kollwitz originally intended to show the figure down to her knee, i.e. shortened by one third. In this version in an almost square format, the child dominates the composition. This focus on the dead infant is even more pronounced in the rejected lithographic version.

For the final woodcut version, the artist added a piece of wood to the block. By depicting the figure’s stiff feet with their spread toes, Käthe Kollwitz achieved a much enhanced expressiveness.

REJECTED VERSION

Käthe Kollwitz, The Widow II, rejected second version of sheet 5 in the series »War«, 1920, crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 154, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, The Widow II, rejected second version of sheet 5 in the series »War«, 1920, crayon lithograph (transfer), Kn 154

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