Dear Readers – COVID-19 has us living in a surreal and difficult time. Despite my best efforts to proceed in this new normal of sheltering in place and social distancing, I’m having a hard time concentrating. So I’m going to switch things up. Instead of my usual format, I’m going to offer Museum Quick Bites. These weekly snippets will focus on a single piece of art and artist. Our theme for the next several weeks will be scenes of comfort, something I think we all need right now. Stay safe. – CJ Verb
This week’s example of comfort is Rest in the Peace of His Hands (1936) by German artist, Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945). On display at the San Diego Museum of Art, this lovely bronze relief features a child nestled safely within the arms of an adult. The sleeping child’s expression is one of pure contentment and bliss.
Kollwitz created Rest in the Peace of His Hands for her family’s grave marker. Her inspiration for the piece came from a verse by poet, Johann von Goethe.
The East belongs to God
The West belongs to God
Northern and Southern lands
Rest in the peace of His hands.
~Johann von Goethe (1749-1832)
Trained as a painter, Kollwitz was best known for her prints which championed the plight of the poor and working-class, and was revered for its emotion and empathy. After her son died in battle during World War I, she became a pacifist. In the 1930s, Kollwitz spoke out against the rise of Nazism and the Gestapo threatened to throw her in a concentration camp. Because of her popularity with the German people, they instead banned Kollwitz from exhibiting her art and used her popular prints—without her permission—for Nazi propaganda.
Kollwitz and her husband carried vials of poison in case the Gestapo made good on their threat. In 1945, Kollwitz died of heart failure just weeks before the Nazis surrendered. If you’d like to view more of her work click on this Käthe Kollwitz link, courtesy of WikiArt.
I’ll be back next week with more Museum Quick Bites. Until then, stay safe and secure.
Cover photo by StockSnap, courtesy of Pixabay.
San Diego Museum of Art: Käthe Kollwitz