Käthe Kollwitz

Die Pflüger (The Ploughmen)

Die Pflüger (The Ploughmen) by Käthe Kollwitz

Artwork Detail

This print belongs to Käthe Kollwitz's second great print cycle, The Peasants' War, and shows two peasants straining like beasts of burden under a plough. Behind them, crows wheel above the furrowed ground. The Peasant War was a violent revolution in the early years of the Reformation, breaking out in 1525 as a result of the inhuman treatment of peasants made virtual slaves by the crippling taxes and demands of compulsory labour imposed by the feudal nobility. Although concerned with an historically remote event, Kollwitz's series takes on a symbolic significance in that it also reflects the plight of the working class in Germany in the early 1900s. Kollwitz was a deeply-committed socialist who found beauty in the worn faces of the poor and sick who beat a path to her husband's Berlin surgery door. As an artist and an advocate of the downtrodden, she identified herself with the historic woman known as Black Anne, believed to have incited the peasants to riot. Hence she weaves historical and contemporary threads together, becoming one of the most dramatic graphic artists of her time. Kollwitz had intended to become a painter, but after reading Max Klinger's pamphlet 'Painting and Drawing', in which he elaborated his belief that the graphic arts were better suited to the expression of the darker aspects of life, she turned to drawing and printmaking. (from The Guide, 2001)

Die Pflüger (The Ploughmen)
Käthe Kollwitz
Production date
etching, aquatint, softground etching, drypoint
306 x 446 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1982
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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