Death Seizes a Woman, Käthe Kollwitz
Käthe Kollwitz
Death Seizes a Woman
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Käthe Kollwitz

Death Seizes a Woman, 1934

Sheet 4 of the cycle ‘Death’

751 x 532 mm
507 mm
365 mm
Physical Description
Crayon lithograph
Inventory Number
SG 4362
Object Number
SG 4362 D
Acquired in 1964 from the collection of Helmut and Hedwig Goedeckemeyer
On display, Special Exhibitions


About the Work

The human body is the true motif of Kollwitz’s work. In vivid body language, she staged—or, more aptly, choreographed—it as a timeless, gestural-emotional form of expression. This is especially apparent in the works in which she reflected on motherhood as an existential experience characterized by unconditional, instinctual love and fear of irreversible loss. When she expands these compositions to include the figure of Death, it is not as a detached vis-à-vis. Rather, Death joins the embrace, which in its dynamic often takes on a virtually dance-like quality. With this physical—indeed, corporal—‘entanglement’, the artist achieved a new and entirely unconventional way of formulating the classical pictorial subject.

About the Acquisition

Immediately after World War I, the art connoisseur and bibliophile Helmut Goedeckemeyer (1898–1983) began amassing one of the largest collections of prints by Käthe Kollwitz. He supplemented these holdings with works of late nineteenth-century French and German printmaking, illustrated books by Max Slevogt, Alfred Kubin and others, and small-scale sculptures by such artists as Aristide Maillol. His collection ultimately encompassed more than 5,000 works. Goedeckemeyer’s close ties to the Städel Museum date back to the 1920s. From 1959 onwards, he and his wife Hedwig were members of the Städelscher Museums-Verein (Städel Museum Association). The City of Frankfurt acquired his Kollwitz collection for the Städtische Galerie (Municipal Gallery) in 1964. He made several gifts to the Städel collection of prints and drawings over the years, and in 1970 presented the museum with Honoré Daumier’s “Ratapoil” (inv. no. St.P391).

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