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Updated: 4-12-13
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Käthe Kollwitz (German, 1867-1945): Self-Portraits

Kollwitz: Introductory / Kollwitz Self-Portraits / Kollwitz 2: Weavers' revolt / Kollwitz 3: Mothers
Kollwitz 4: Tragedies / Kollwitz 5: Women / Kollwitz 6: Women 2 / Kollwitz 7: Peasants' War / Kollwitz 8: Men

German Expressionism: Survey I / Survey II / Survey III

"Käthe Kollwitz and German Expressionism" featured over fifty works by Käthe Kollwitz plus additional works by Ernst Barlach, Rudolf Bauer, Max Beckmann, Peter Behrens, Heinrich Campendonck, Marc Chagall, Lovis Corinth, Otto Dix, Lyonel Feininger,
Conrad Felixmuller, Hans Fronius, Alfons Graber, Otto Greiner, Georg Grosz, Erich Heckel, Hannah Hoch, Karl Hofer,
Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Oskar Kokoschka, Ludwig Meidner, Edvard Munch,
Gabrielle Munter, Heinrich Nauen, Emile Nolde, Max Pechstein, Hilla von Rebay, Georges Rouault, Rudolf Schlichter,
Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Siegfried Schott, Georg Tappert, Wilhelm Wagner, and others.

German Expressionist Drawings

The Russians: Chagall, Sonia Delaunay, Goncharova, Larionov, and Malevich
One of the greatest graphic artists of all time, Kollwitz, the granddaughter of a radical preacher and the daughter of a union organizer, a pacifist, a lover of children, and a socialist, spent her life in an autocratic state which, whether ruled by the Kaiser or the Nazis, hated everything for which she stood. The first woman to be elected professor at the Prussian Academy, she lost her position as soon as Hitler came to power. The two prints shown at German ExpressionismDer Agitationsredner / The Agitator (Kl. 224) and Verbrüderung / Fraternal love (Kl. 199b)—seem to sum up the possibilities that Kollwitz foresaw for her country in the 1920s, either to follow those voices inciting hatred and setting each against the other or to find a way for all to live together in loving harmony. Kollwitz's art shows us one who responded to her country's choice with anguished protest, as if each print might finally be the one to bring Germany back to her senses.

Selected bibliography: Herbert Bittner, Kaethe Kollwitz: Drawings (NY: Yoseloff, 1959), Tom Fecht, ed., Käthe Kollwitz: Works in Color (NY: Schocken Books, 1988), Martha Kearns, Kathe Kollwitz: Woman and Artist (Old Westbury CN: Feminist Press, 1976), Mina C. Klein & H Arthur Kathe Kollwitz: Life in Art (NY: Schocken Books, 1975), August Klipstein, The Graphic Work of Käthe Kollwitz: Complete Illustrated Catalogue (NY: Galerie St. Etienne, 1955), Hans Kollwitz, Ich sah die Welt mit liebevollen Blicken: Kathe Kollwitz: Ein Leben in Selbstzeugnissen, ed. Hans Kollwitz (Hannover: Schmidt-Kuster GMBH, 1968), Hans Kollwitz, ed. The Diary and Letters of Kaethe Kollwitz, trans. Richard and Clara Winston (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1988), Kathe Kollwitz, Das Neue Kollwitz Werk (Dresden: Carl Reissner, 1933), Kathe Kollwitz, Die Graphische Kunst von Kathe Kollwitz (Berlin: A v Der Becke, 1932), Kathe Kollwitz, Käthe Kollwitz Mappe (München: Georg D W Callwey, n d), Malcolm E Lein, Kaethe Kollwitz (St. Paul: Minnesota Museum of Art, 1973), Otto Nagel, Die Selbstbildnisse der Kathe Kollwitz (Berlin: Henscelverlag, 1965), Otto Nagel, The Drawings of Käthe Kollwitz (NY: Crown Publishers, Inc , 1972), Fritz Schmalenbach, Kathe Kollwitz (Konigstein im Taunus: Die Blauen Bucher, 1986), Elizabeth Prelinger, Käthe Kollwitz (Washington, D C : National Gallery of Art, 1992), Carl Zigrosser, Prints and Drawings of Käthe Kollwitz (NY: Dover, 1969)
Self-portrait seated at a table n. 2 (Kl. 14v). Original etching with aquatint, c. 1892. Edition: a pencil-signed impression from a von der Becke edition after 1922 with his drystamp. A very good impression with rich surface marking and good plate tone. This is one of Kollwitz' earliest self-portraits. Here she presents herself at about twenty-five years of age seated at a table with her papers—probably drawings or prints—spread out in front of her. Image size: 178x128mm. Price: SOLD.
Self-portrait seated at a table n. 2 (Kl. 14vb). Original etching with aquatint, c. 1892. Edition: an impression from a von der Becke edition c. 1931 with his drystamp. A very good impression with surface marking and good plate tone. This is one of Kollwitz' earliest self-portraits. Here she presents herself at about twenty-five years of age seated at a table with her papers—probably drawings or prints—spread out in front of her. Image size: 178x128mm. Price: $1600.
An der kirchenmauer / By the Church wall: Self-Portrait (Kl. 19 VIb). Original etching, 1893. Edition: from the von der Becke edition after 1931 with his drystamp. The face and hands of the subject are clearly modelled upon Kollwitz herself, making this a self-portrait, even though, according to Nagel, its inspiration was a homeless woman sitting by a church. Image size: 215x129mm. Price: $1750.
Tod und Frau / Death and Woman /self-portrait (Klipstein 103, Knesebeck 107 VIIIb). Original Line etching, drypoint, sandpaper, soft ground with imprint of granulated tone paper and Ziegler’s transfer paper, and roulette, 1910. 50 signed and numbered impressions (state Vd). After this edition, the plate, which was damaged in the war, was reworked: among other repairs, roulette lines upon the child’s right foot and the woman’s right upper leg; the entire background appears as if it had been cleaned; the script at left (At left: "Orig. Rad. von Käte Kollwitz") and right ("Druck v. O. Felsing, Berlin-Chlttbg.") is still partially visible. Our impression is from a von der Becke edition between 1963/65 and 1972, in brown on thick, soft velin, with von der Becke’s Munich embossed seal. After this edition, the plate was no longer printed; the plate exists (Kunstsammlung Akademie Berlin, loan). One of Kollwitz' most frequently illustrated prints. Image size: 393x391mm. Price: $3850.
Death, woman, and child /self-portrait (Kl. 113 xiv; Knesebeck 108 XIV/XVb). Original etching, 1910. Knesebeck describes states XIII and XIV as follows. State XIII: Richter edition of 1921--"With engraved script along the lower edge of the plate: at left: "Orig. Rad. von Käte Kollwitz"; at center: "VERLAG VON EMIL RICHTER, DRESDEN"; at right: "Druck v. O. Felsing, Berlin-Chlttbg." The edition was printed in brown on copperplate paper; it was unsigned, but occasionally had accommodatory signatures. Some proofs with Richter’s stamp of the artist’s signature and with Richter’s embossed seal. XIV: Richter’s address was removed. Published in an edition by von der Becke, circa 1931; printed in brown, on copperplate paper, most signed "Kollwitz” in lower right; XV: The remaining script removed. Editions by von der Becke as of 1946/48 with either his Berlin or Munich drystamps.

Ours lacks Richter's address, but still has the script lower left and lower right, and lacks von der Becke's drystamp, fitting Knesebeck's state XIV. The plate exists and is on loan to the Kunstsammlung Akademie Berlin. One of Kollwitz' most frequently illustrated prints. Image size: 393x391mm. Price: SOLD.
Self Portrait (Kl. 122 vii.d, von Knesebeck 126.vii.d.2). Original soft-ground etching and aquatint, 1912. Published by von der Becke c. 1944-46-1963/65 with his 3-line Berlin-Halinsee drystamp. An earlier state of this self-portrait was used as the Frontispiece for the catalogue raisonné of her prints published in 1913 by Johannes Sievers in Dresden. Good impression with plate tone and large margins. Image size: 140x100mm. Price: $2500.
Self Portrait (Kl. 122 vii.e, von Knesebeck 126.vii.d.3). Original soft-ground etching and aquatint, 1912. Published by von der Becke c. 1963/65-1972 with his 2-line Muenchen drystamp. An earlier state of this self-portrait was used as the Frontispiece for the catalogue raisonne of her prints published in 1913 by Johannes Sievers in Dresden. Good impression with plate tone. Image size: 140x100mm. $1750.
Self Portrait (Kl. 133d). Original lithograph, 1919. 25 signed impressions on Japon plus 175 on Bütten in 1919. There were also two additional editions, one by Emil Richter and a 1931 von der Becke edition, both of unknown size, a few of which were signed, but others (like ours), were not. Some creasing in the margins; lower left corner has a repaired tear on the right. Reproduced on the cover of Renate Hinz, Käthe Kollwitz, Graphics, Posters, Drawings (NY: Randon House, 1981). Image size: 340x290mm. Price: $2875.
Self Portrait (Kl. 145 1b / IIIb, von Knesebeck 162 1.c). Original lithograph, 1920. From the first edition published in Karl Pfister, Deutsch Graphiker der Gegenwart / German Printmakers of Today (Leipsig, 1920) in an edition of 100 deluxe impression proofs and several hundred impressions for the regular edition with a printed text verso: "Käte Kollwitz: Selbstbildnis / Originallithographie." There were also two other editions, one by E. Richter and a 1931 von der Becke edition. Image size: 235x200mm . Price: $2600.
Self Portrait (Kl. 155, von Knesebeck 171 vi: b). Original etching with burnisher, 1921. States I-V show Kollwitz making corrections; state VI is the final state. Von Knesebeck describes state A as proofs before the first edition, which was published in two parts: 30 impressions on imperial Japan paper (State B) and 120 signed and numbered impressions on either ribbed laid paper or on velin, as ours, which is signed in pencil lower right and numbered 30/120 lower left (State C). Ours is a superb impression with the blacks printing very darkly both on the shoulder and the hand supporting her head. One of Kollwitz' greatest self-portraits, another impression of this print was acquired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts several years ago. Like ours, their impression has a very small paper flaw just above the hair center right by the platemark (perhaps impurities in the paper mix). State D consists of editions since 1947 with damage in the lower plate. Image size: 217x266mm. Price: SOLD.
Self Portrait (Kl. 155 vii/vii, von Knesebeck 171 vi: d). Original etching with aquatint, 1921. Published after 1947 by von der Becke with his two-line Muenchen22 drystamp lower right. A very rich impression of this important self-portrait with very good plate tone. Printed in dark bistre ink. One of Kollwitz' greatest self-portraits, another impression of this print was acquired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts several years ago. Image size: 217x266mm. Price: $3750.
Self Portrait (Kl. 155 vii/vii, von Knesebeck 171 vi: d). Original etching with aquatint, 1921. Published after 1947 by von der Becke with his two-line Muenchen22 drystamp lower right. A very good impression of this important self-portrait with very good plate tone. Printed in bistre ink. One of Kollwitz' greatest self-portraits, another impression of this print was acquired by the National Museum of Women in the Arts several years ago. Image size: 217x266mm. Price: $3250.
Kleines Selbstbildness nachs links / Small Self-Portrait towards the left (Kliplstein 34, von Knesebeck 33) Crayon lithograph, before mid-Augest 1922. Proofs on various papers, most signed (of which ours is one) plus an edition for the "Kunstlerspende für das Deutsche Buchmuseum," Leipsig, November, 1922 (format: 575x465mm; the purpose of this edition was to raise money for the German Book Museum so that they wouldn't have to sell their Gutenberg Bible in order to stay open). There was also an edition of 200 on yellow-brown machine-made paper or on imitation Japan paper. Image size: 191x130mm. Price: $7500.
Self Portrait (Kl. 168 xiv/xiv, Knesebeck 193, Zigrosssr 42). Original woodcut, 1923. 275 impressions signed in pencil lower right published in 1923, of which this is one, plus an unknown number of unsigned impressions. Published by Emil Richter in Ludwig Kaemmerer's Kaethe Kollwitz (Dresden, 1923) and numbered in the book colophon 201 of 275. One of Kollwitz' most striking prints. Image size: 150x155mm. Price: SOLD.

One of Kollwitz's most memorable self-portraits, this stark self depiction is illustrated in Otto Nagel's Käthe Kollwitz (1971), Nagel's Die Selfbildnesse der Käthe Kollwitz (1965), Elizabeth Prelinger's Käthe Kollwitz (1992), published by Yale to accompany the retrospective at the National Gallery of Art , and Zigrosser's Prints and Drawings of Käthe Kollwitz (1969),
Self Portrait (Kl. 198, von Knesebeck 209). Original crayon lithograph, 1924. This is one of Kollwitz's most expressive self-portraits and is frequently illustrated in books on Kollwitz, including Gerhard Strauss' study, where it is reproduced on the front cover. Our impression is a collotype published by von der Becke with his 3-line Berlin-Halensee drystamp. The collotype was presumably made after Kollwitz's studio was destoyed by bombs in 1944. A new plate was made ( c. 1944-1946) from one of the impressions of the original lithograph and printed with the concurrance of either Kollwitz or her son Hans by von der Becke, who had been printing her new works from the 1930s on. Image size: 282x221mm . Price: $2500.
Ruf des Tod / Call of Death. Original crayon lithograph, c. 1937 (Klipstein 263, von Knesebeck 269). Kollwitz presents herself as ready to welcome death's touch to take her away from the troubles of a world in which Hitler was destroying what she loved in Germany and was just about to launch his wars of conquest in the east and then in the west. In this world, death is not something to be feared so much as way to escape from a life in which she and her friends were all being prohibited from showing their work and had all been fired from their teaching positions (she was the first woman professor at the Prussian Academy of Art and had been dismissed at Hitler's demand shortly after he assumed power). Her friend Ernst Barlach had protested her dismissal, for which he was hounded to death. Perhaps remembering Hans Holbien's woodcut in the French edition of the Dance of Death (c. 1538), in which Death comes to help a weary plowman finish his plowing before Death takes him away, she does not look with fear or anger at death, unlike the mothers she had earlier presneted struggling with Death to hold on to their children; rather she looks up as if an old friend for whom she has been waiting had just arrived to keep their appointment. One of the most sublime explorations of the end of life in European art. Image size: 380x383mm. Paper size: 642x541mm. Price: $15,000.
Self-portrait in profile facing right (Kl. 265 iii/iii, von Knesebeck 273 iii b-c/d). Original lithograph, 1938. Von Knesebeck says "According to Klipstein, there are signed proofs of this state," implying that she herself has never seen one so if there are any, they are very rare. Von Knesebeck mentions that state d contains impressions "from the stone made unuseable." Our impressions is therefore either from state b ("30 proofs, 1946, on smooth, carton-like paper. Some with the estate remark from Hans Kollwitz or with the embossed stamp “Käthe Kollwitz Nachlaß [Estate]” or state c "Edition of circa 220 proofs, 1947, on various papers, on velin, imitation Japan and simple, machine-made paper. Some with the estate remark from Hans Kollwitz or with the embossed stamp “Käthe Kollwitz Nachlaß [Fine impression on wove paper." In either case, it is one of only 250 impressions produced by Han Kollwitz to preserve this last self-portrait by his mother for posterity. Kollwitz, like Durer, Rembrandt, and Picasso, often portrayed herself in her art. In this very famous work, she shows herself as old but unbowed. A large, rare, and highly desirable work by one of the 20th-centuries greatest artists." Image size: 475x290mm. Price: $6000.

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