• Käthe Kollwitz
  • Königsberg 1867 - 1945 Moritzburg / Dresden
  • Gretchen, 1899
  • Pencil over chalk, on wove paper,
  • signed and inscribed on the lower left:
    Käthe Kollwitz / Gretchen
  • 357 × 253 mm
Heinrich Sauerwein, Munich
Ingeborg Tremmel, Southern Germany
Otto Nagel/Werner Timm:
Käthe Kollwitz, Die Handzeichnungen,
Berlin, 1972, no. 151, ill. p. 209.
Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, 1952:
Käthe Kollwitz: Zeichnungen und Graphik
cat. no. 12, ill. 1,
Berlin, Käthe-Kollwitz-Museum, 2006:
Ernst Barlach und Käthe Kollwitz im Zwiegespräch
cat. no. 72, ill. p. 98.

Käthe Kollwitz occupied herself with this tragic female figure from Goethe’s drama Faust for a longer period of time. There exist a total of five drawn depictions of Gretchen in a comparable pose, of which the drawing shown here offers the most thorough definition of the figure (see Nagel / Timm, nos. 148-152). An engraving from 1899 adopts this composition, inverted and almost unchanged.1, 2

One of the aforementioned drawings bears, along with the title, the date 1899 in the hand of the artist (see Nagel / Timm no. 150). Nonetheless, the known purchase of an initial engraved version of the Gretchen motif by the Kupferstich-Kabinett in Dresden on January 10, 1899 suggests that Käthe Kollwitz had already begun to grapple with this figure in 1898 (see Knesebeck no. 41).

  1. August Klipstein:
    Käthe Kollwitz - Verzeichnis des graphischen Werkes
    Bern 1955, no. 43
  2. Alexandra von dem Knesebeck:
    Käthe Kollwitz - Werksverzeichnis der Grafik,
    new edition Bern 2002, Nr. 45