Kathe Kollwitz was born in Kaliningrad, Russia in 1867. Kollwitz was born into a middle class family that motivated her to work on her artistic skills. She could only take private lessons with artists because women weren’t allowed in the Konigsberg Academy. She studied in Munich and Berlin later on. In 1891, she got married in Berlin and had two sons. Kollwitz was very interested in graphic arts so she decided to become a printmaker. She made woodcuts, lithographs and etchings. Most of her artworks were in black and white but it also caused her some trouble. In 1897, Kollwitz couldn’t get a gold medal in the Berlin Salon because Kaiser Wilhelm didn’t like the way she interpreted her work. She was forced to give up her job as the first woman professor in the Prussian Academy in 1933 and she was banned from showing her artworks later on. Towards the end of her life, Kollwitz made a bronze and stone sculpture that expresses her values. In 1943, most of her artworks were ruined in a Berlin air raid. Kollwitz passed away later in Dresden (NMWA).
Kathe Kollwitz did a series of drawings, etchings and charcoals called ‘Pieta’, which means men’s Mary mourning her dead son, in 1903 (Bertman). Woman with Dead Child was one of the etchings in that series (Bertman). Kathe’s son was the model in this etching (Bertman). There’s a woman sitting down with a dead child in her arms. The woman looks disheartened and sorrowful. The woman’s body looks very masculine and it can be a symbol for the strength she has to protect her child. Also, the woman is holding the child very tightly and close to her chest. This can represent the love and protection she has for the child. The death of the child shows us that no matter the love and protection of the mother can’t always prevent the child from danger. Kathe Kollwitz experienced the death of her own child when her son was killed in WWI when he was 21 years old (Bertman).