Woman with Child on her Lap, model c. 1911, finished 1936/1937?

Bronze, 401,5 (h) 290 (w) 317 (d) mm, Seeler 08 I.B.1.

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman with Child on her Lap, model c. 1911, finished 1936/1937?, bronze, Seeler 8 I.B.1., Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

This work is among the earliest sculptural endeavours by Käthe Kollwitz and is at the same time a link to her small-scale sculptures from the 1930s. Its motif is a variation on one of the artist’s main thematic areas, namely the relationship between mother and child.

The compositional idea of expressing the relationship of two figures by placing one on the lap of the other is used repeatedly by the artist, both in her graphic and sculptural work. Examples of this are the »Pair of Lovers«” and »Pietà«. In those works, the theme of ›mother and child‹ is given a symbolical significance, which is not the case in this group. Rather, this is a representation of a child and its working-class mother who is lost in thought. The work has socio-cultural overtones.

Contours and surface have not been smoothed, but are structured in an angular, sketch-like fashion. This approach to sculptural modelling, which puts less emphasis on creating volume and focusses instead on creating a ›flickering‹ rather than a smooth surface, is reminiscent of the »Pair of Lovers«.

Initially, Käthe Kollwitz had just one copy cast in plaster, and kept this for many years. This is documented by a lithograph drawing from 1921 that shows an almost identical front view. It was only in the 1930s – presumably after giving it some finishing touches for an upcoming monographic show – that the »Woman with Child on her Lap« was cast in bronze.

Contextual drawing

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman, seated, with Child on her Lap, 1921, lithographic drawing on brownish paper, NT 925, Cologne Kollwitz Collection © Käthe Kollwitz Museum Köln

Käthe Kollwitz, Woman, seated, with Child on her Lap, 1921, lithographic drawing on brownish paper, NT 925

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