Kathe Kollwitz

Featuring 36 works from the British Museum’s collection, and two works from a private lender, this exhibition explores the work of Käthe Kollwitz through her self-portraits and portraits of working women, demonstrating her unique artistic talent, her technical prowess and intelligence, and above all, her humanity.


Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) was one of the leading artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, notable for the emotional power of her drawing, printmaking and sculpture.

She lived an intensely examined life, expressed in her numerous self-portraits, diaries and correspondence. At the core of this existence was her work as an artist and a mastery of graphic art which quickly established her reputation in Germany, then further afield as her influence spread internationally after the First World War.


Establishing herself in an art world dominated by men, Kollwitz developed a vision centred on women and the working class. Her two great series concerned with social injustice: Ein Weberaufstand (A Weavers’ Revolt, completed in 1897) and Bauernkrieg (Peasants’ War completed in 1908) demonstrate an ever-present imagery of death, especially a mother’s grief, and finally the theme of war and remembrance after her younger son, Peter, had been killed at the beginning of the First World War.


KWL – Principal sponsor of the Ferens exhibition programme 2018/19