At the Doctor's (Beim Arzt)

Kollwitz, Käthe

Primary Category: Visual Arts / Painting/Drawing

Genre: Charcoal

Annotated by:
Winkler, Mary
  • Date of entry: Dec-16-1996
  • Last revised: Jan-25-1999


An older pregnant woman hesitantly knocks on a closed door. Everything in her pose suggests fatigue and a kind of dignified resignation. Her head is bowed in the direction of her pregnant belly. Perhaps this is one of many pregnancies in this working-class woman's life. The title of the drawing tells the story: she has come to the doctor for a pre-natal visit.


Much of Kollwitz's work is the exploration of working-class life. Both Kollwitz and her husband (who was a doctor in a working-class quarter of Berlin) were engaged with the plight of the urban poor, and worked to alleviate their suffering.

Many of Käthe Kollwitz's subjects were her husband's patients. She sought to make their dignity and beauty apparent through her art. In her memoir she wrote that she chose these people because "only such subjects gave me in a simple and unqualified way what I felt to be beautiful . . . The proletariat [have] a grandness of manner, a breadth to their lives. . . I simply felt that the lives of the workers were beautiful."

Much of the Kollwitz oeuvre is political. This drawing belongs to "The Workers' World," a series she published in the journal, Simplicissimus, in the years preceding World War I. She probably had seen many scenes like this drawing in her husband's practice. It is the artist's decision to depict the overburdened woman OUTSIDE the doctor's office that gives the work its tension and poignancy.


First published in the journal, Simplicissimus, November 29, 1909.

Primary Source

Catalogue of the Käthe Kollwitz Museum, Cologne, 1989.