- Museum number
- Object: Selbstbildnis (Self-portrait)
Self-portrait with head turned in profile to the left and hand raised to cheek; 6th state. 1924
Woodcut, printed in black on soft white Japan paper
- Production date
Height: 209 millimetres
Width: 301 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This print went through seven states in all. The seventh state was published in 'Die Schaffenden' (5th year, 1st Mappe).
Kollwitz mentioned this print in her journal, 14 May 1924, as one of 'two small things for a publisher.'
Text from Frances Carey & Antony Griffiths, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', BM 1984, no.45
This print is mentioned in the journal entry for 14 May 1924: "I am working on two small things for a publisher, the Visitation of Elizabeth and Mary [Klipstein 232-4] and a self-portrait with raised hand. Both woodcuts." These are now two of Kollwitz's most widely admired woodcuts, and it is curious that she referred to them so disparagingly. The reason for their popularity, apart from their quality, is the soft and almost crumbly texture of the impression which is very different from the hard and schematic appearance of many of her woodcuts which can sometimes look rather like line-blocks. The explanation of the difference is not obvious. There is however an interesting remark in the journal for February 1922 concerning her woodcuts: "With the soft wood, which is more entertaining to cut, I find it impossible to work since it produces too many accidents and mistakes. And the hard wood, in the way I handle it, very easily slips into the academic" This suggests the possibility that she may in these two instances have reverted to using soft wood. Indeed, on a proof of K232 noted by Klipstein is an annotation "This is good" and "Experiment in plywood". There is no obvious source for the self-portrait, but the 'Visitation' was inspired by a painting in the Berlin gallery by Konrad Witz (journal entry for 6 February 1922; see Walter Timm, 'Käthe Kollwitz', 1980, plate 22).
The print went through seven states in all. In the first four the block extended 212 mm further at the bottom, and the artist's left hand and forearm were to be seen lying horizontally at the centre of the block. The differences described in Kornfeld's catalogue from the fifth to seventh states are very slight; this impression however seems to correspond exactly to his illustration of the sixth state. In the seventh state, the print was published in an edition of 125 in 'Die Schaffenden' (5th year, 1st Mappe) (cf. 1983,0127.5). The impressions from 'Die Schaffenden' are much harder and sharper, with little of the softening of the form which is so effective in this impression. This is partly a matter of the high quality Japan paper and the care taken in the printing.
Additional lit.: F. Carey and M. Egremont, 'Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz' (Birmingham, Ikon, 2017), cat. 5.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1984/5 Sep-Jan, BM, 'The Print in Germany 1880-1933', cat.45
1995 Jan-Mar, Lancaster, Peter Scott Gallery, Käthe Kollwitz
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
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number