Lamentation

Käthe Kollwitz, Detail of In Memoriam Karl Liebknecht, 1919, Etching, William Benton Museum of Art, Storrs.

The German artist Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) was a printmaker who used her art to advocate against social injustice, war, and inhumanity. She created works about oppression, revolution, and war and the effect that these events have on families.

Kollwitz rarely depicted real people but she agreed to memorialize the Communist leader Karl Liebknecht who was assassinated during an uprising of 1919. This early version of the memorial is an etching in the style of a lamentation, a traditional motif in Christian art depicting the followers of Christ mourning over his dead body, casting Liebknecht as the Christ figure. The iconography would have been easily recognizable by the artist’s intended audience.

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