Killed in Action (Gefallen)

Käthe Kollwitz (German, Kaliningrad (Königsberg) 1867–1945 Moritzburg)
Emil Richter, Dresden
Sheet: 25 1/4 x 21 in. (64.1 x 53.4 cm)
Image: 16 9/16 × 13 3/8 in. (42 × 34 cm)
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1928
Accession Number:
Not on view
Kollwitz’s younger son Peter volunteered for combat when the war began and died in October 1914 while fighting in Belgium. Killed in Action expresses the intense pain of those who lost loved ones in the war. The mother’s whole body reveals her devastation, while her children’s faces display a range of emotions—shock, horror, fear—as they rush to her side, She is too consumed with pain to acknowledge them. Kollwitz used lithography, a technique in which she noted "only the essentials count." This work has a raw, unfinished quality—lines appear quickly drawn and the son’s lower body is absent—and identifying details are eliminated, making Killed in Action a universal and timeless image of grief.
Inscription: Signed in stone at lower right: "Kollwitz", also signed in graphite at lower right: "Kollwitz"
Jentsch 1979, no.65; Knesebeck Vol.II, no.150iii
Käthe Kollwitz Radierungen, Lithographien, Holzschnitte. Ralph Jentsch, Esslingen, 1979, cat. no. 65, 34, ill.

Alexandra von dem Knesebeck Käthe Kollwitz: Werkverzeichnis der Graphik Neubearbeitung des Berzeichnisses von August Klipstein, publiziert 1955. 2, Bern, 2002, cat. no. 150, 456, ill.