A Gift of Art

Paul Larson, professor emeritus of music, and his wife, Janice Larson, have given Moravian an etching from Käthe Kollwitz’s Bauernkrieg (Peasant War) series.

Kollwitz is recognized as the most important female printmaker of the 20th century, says Martha Kearns, author of Käthe Kollwitz: Woman and Artist, the definitive 1991 biography in English. Co-founder and executive director of FrankfordStyle, a community arts center in North Philadelphia, Kearns is an adjunct professor of art history at Moravian and at Chestnut Hill College.

Kollwitz (1867-1945) was the wife of a doctor who lived among and treated the poor workers of Berlin. In addition to Peasant War, her most important prints are The Weavers’ Uprising (1893-97) and three series of woodcuts (1919, 1921, and 1923) criticizing World War I, in which she had lost her son, Peter.

Peasant War was created in 1908. The artist restruck (reprinted) the etching series in 1922 and 1927. Larson’s gift is believed to be from the 1927 restrike, and is valued at $4,000.

The peasant war of the title was a series of rebellions in 1525 brought on by Luther’s challenge to the Roman Catholic Church. The serfs saw his reforms of church liturgy and doctrine as a blow for their own economic freedom and rose against their aristocratic owners. As they had no arms but farm implements, their revolt was quickly and harshly put down.