Under the Arch of the Bridge, 1928

Charcoal and black crayon, blotted, on drawing paper, NT 1161

Käthe Kollwitz, Under the Arch of the Bridge, 1928, charcoal and black crayon, blotted, on drawing paper, NT 1161, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

»Under the Arch of the Bridge« is the sketched draft for a more detailed drawing which – according to a diary entry of January 1928 – the artist created for the Salvation Army. The work is thus one of the works commissioned by humanitarian organisations with which the artist was flooded after World War I.

In the foreground, the drawing shows a man lying under a bridge. His legs are tucked up and he is giving himself a tight hug because he is cold. Behind him, another homeless man is seen squatting, his head on his knees. He is probably asleep.

While Käthe Kollwitz had explored the same theme in some of her earlier drawings for Simplicissimus, the return to this motif in 1928 may have had a concrete background. Around 1928, a global economic depression led to mass redundancy in the manufacturing sector.

From a stylistic point of view, this sketch with its dynamically outlined figures is characteristic of Kollwitz’ later period.

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