Käthe Kollwitz, Death in the Water, sheet 7 of the series »Death«, 1934, crayon lithograph, Kn 268 b, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

The seventh sheet of the series shows the sinking down of lifeless bodies, the death of a family, and is reminiscent of an under-water photograph. The bent body of the mother pushes the child into the depth, while the father’s body is upright and his mouth open as he sinks down. The floating bodies do not illustrate an agonising death, but convey an element of lightness as they are being supported by the water.

Käthe Kollwitz already explored the theme of death in the water in 1909 and again in the 1920s in connection with her work for Simplicissimus when she made drawings of pregnant women drowning themselves, some of them together with their children. While the artist emphasised the predicament of the women in these drawings and explored the despair that drove them to this last step, the figures in »Death in the Water« have been released from all earthly suffering.

PREPARATORY DRAWING

Käthe Kollwitz, Drowning Man, 1934, charcoal on thick, chamois-coloured paper, NT 1258, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Drowning Man, 1934, charcoal on thick, chamois-coloured paper, NT 1258

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