- Museum number
- Object: ''Aus vielen Wunden blutest du, oh Volk'' (''From many wounds you bleed, oh people'')
Central figure with sword bends over corpse of Christ, probing the side wound, flanked by nude females bound to columns; 4th state. 1896
Etching, drypoint, aquatint and burnisher, printed in black on vélin, with the Berlin-Halensee blindstamp of the publisher Alexander von der Becke (posthumous impression printed sometime between c. 1948 and c. 1963)
- Production date
Height: 128 millimetres
Width: 340 millimetres
- Curator's comments
This print is from the fourth and final state of the plate.
Kollwitz orginally intended this to serve as the concluding plate for the series 'A Weavers' Revolt'. The critic Julius Elias convinced her that its symbolist style conflicted with the naturalism of the other prints, and she thus omitted it from the series. Kollwitz later used the same composition for the etching 'Zertretene' ('The Downtrodden') of 1900 (Klipstein 48).
See Carey & Griffiths, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', BM exh cat, 1984, no.24.
Additional lit.: F. Carey and M. Egremont, 'Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz' (Birmingham, Ikon, 2017), cat. 11.
Text from Frances Carey and Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Germany', BM 1984, no 24 [A discussion of 1979,1006.68]
This symbolic plate was originally planned as a conclusion for the 'Weber' cycle, but was excluded on the advice of Julius Elias (according to his own account in 'Kunst und Künstler', xvi, 1917, p.540). The source of the quotation of the title has not been identified.
The iconography of the scene is far from clear in the absence of any surviving explanation by Kollwitz herself. The outstretched figure of the 'Volk' is identified with Christ by the crown of thorns and the wound in the side, as well as its obvious derivation from Holbein's famous painting of the dead Christ in the museum at Basle, or its more recent rehandlings in paintings by Böcklin, Klinger and Stuck. The leaning figure should perhaps be identified from the sword as Justice, in which case Justice is playing the role of the doubting Thomas, who needs to touch the wound before it can believe. The two bound female figures flanking the central scene are even less readily interpretable. A contemporary critic called them "Marterpfähle der Not" - 'stakes of Need'. (See the essay 'Beweinung-Transformation eines christlichen Motivs' by Renate Hinz in the catalogue of the 1973 Kollwitz exhibition at the Frankfurt Kunstverein). In 1900 Kollwitz recast the image in a drawing (entitled 'Das Leben', Life, Nagel 158) and an etching (entitled 'Zertretene', The Downtrodden, Klipstein 48). In this the central scene remains the same, but one wing becomes a father who hands a noose to a mother with a dead child, while the other has in the drawing a bound nude with a starving woman (perhaps Need and Shame) and the artist's self-portrait in profile (this last is not to be seen in the print).
This is the only occasion that Kollwitz ever attempted to elevate the subject-matter of her realist prints by transposing it into the idiom of contemporary symbolism. The effort seems odd and misplaced to the modern viewer, but it is revealing of Kollwitz's artistic formation that she should ever have made it.
For a discussion of the series see 1951,0501.74.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984/5 Sept.-Jan., BM, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', cat.24
2000 Feb-May, London, National Gallery, 'Seeing Salvation'
2017 13 Sep-26 Nov, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz
2017-2018 15 Dec-11 Mar, Young Gallery, Salisbury, Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz
2018 24 Mar-17 Jun, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz
2018 30 Jun-30 Sep, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz
2019-20, 2 September-12 January, London, BM, G90, Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number