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Art and Images in Psychiatry |

The Mothers(VI From Seven Woodcuts to War)

James C. Harris, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65(11):1249. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.65.11.1249.
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Peter Kollwitz died on the night of October 22/23, 1914, three days after the beginning of fighting at the Battle of the Yser River in Flanders; he was the first member of his regiment to be killed. His parents were notified of his death by the authorities on October 30. The Germans had declared war on August 1, and in the wave of patriotic fervor that followed, Peter, age 18 years, had volunteered. When he had asked his parents' permission to join the military, his physician father, Karl, said no, but his artist mother, Käthe Kollwitz, equivocated and then, somewhat reluctantly, supported Peter's choice. Although she soon had second thoughts, it was too late! She was to agonize about her initial support for his volunteering long afterward.2

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Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), German. Die Mütter(The Mothers) (VI From Seven Woodcuts to War), 1923-1924. Woodcut, 13½ × 15¾ in (34.3 × 40 cm). Sheet: 17⅜ × 19⅜ in (44.1 × 49.2 cm). Published by Emil Richter, Dresden. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Gift of Dr and Mrs William Wolgin, 1964. ©2008 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, New York; VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany.

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