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Käthe Kollwitz

Käthe Kollwitz

*  1867 Königsberg
† 1945 Moritzburg

Käthe Kollwitz was born on July 8, 1867 in Königsberg. Her father supports her talents from an early point on and Käthe Kollwitz receives first art training from the painter Gustav Naujoks and the engraver Rudolf Mauer in Königsberg as early as in 1881. She attends the drawing classes of Karl Stauffer-Bern at the School for Female Artists in Berlin as of 1886. She takes further classes with the painter Emil Neide in Königsbern in 1887, finally studying in Munich under Ludwig Herterich until 1890. She marries the physician Karl Kollwitz from Berlin in 1891, who takes over a doctor's practice in Berlin at the Prenzlauer Berg, to where the couple moves the same year.
In Berlin Käthe Kollwitz shows a continued interest in printing techniques, she also executes her first etchings. Encountering works by Max Klinger leave a deep impression with her. She reads the writing "Malerei und Zeichnung" (Painting and Drawing) in 1892 and finds her favor for graphic art confirmed. She attends the debut performance of Gerhart Hauptmann's play "Die Weber" (The Weavers) in 1893 and picks up working on a graphic cycle on the topic "Ein Weberaufstand" (A Weaver's Revolution). The jury of the "Große Berliner Kunstausstellung" (Great Berlin Art Exhibition) award her the small gold medal for that work in 1898. Max Lehrs, head of the Dresden print room, is so impressed by her that he begins collecting works by Käthe Kollwitz the very same year. He publishes a first catalogue raisonné in the Viennese magazine "Die graphischen Künste" (The Graphic Arts) as early as in 1903.
She teaches at the Berlin Female Artists School from 1898 to 1903, starting to work on her cycle "Bauernkrieg" (Peasants War) the same year. During a several week study visit to Paris in 1904, she attends sculpting classes at the Académie Julian and meets Auguste Rodin in his studio. She also captures the life in market halls and night bars in a number of drawings. Käthe Kollwitz is awarded the Villa-Romana-Price in 1907 and spends several weeks in Florence.
Both her sons volunteer in World War I, her younger son dies in the first year of the war at the age of 18. The mourning over her son's death and the impressions of war, hardships, starvation and miseries can be found in her works up into the early 30s in a very haunting manner. Her call for peace becomes political.
Käthe Kollwitz is honored by becoming the first female member of the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1919 and is appointed professor, which also includes an own studio in the academy. She is forced to withdraw from the academy in 1933. She works on the series of lithographs "Tod" (Death) in 1934/35. Deep resignation and her longing to die find expression in her work. She makes the lithograph "Saatfrüchte sollen nicht vermahlen werden" in 1942. Her Berlin studio is bombed out in 1943. She moves to the Rüdenhof near Schloss Moritzburg in 1944 where she dies on April 22, 1945.