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Max Klinger

Dead Mother
Plate 10 from the series "Vom Tod" [Of Death], Second Part (Opus XIII)


Max Klinger
Leipzig 1857 – Grossjena, Germany, 1920


Dead Mother
Plate 10 from the series "Vom Tod" [Of Death], Second Part (Opus XIII)


1889, printed 1895


Etching, aquatint, state V/VII or VI/VII


55.4 x 40.5 cm (sheet), 46.1 x 35.6 cm (platemark)


Purchase, Wake Robin Fund in memory of Nelo St.B. Harrison, inv. 2000.17


Graphic Arts

Klinger was closely associated with the Symbolist movement, and his prints presented to a wide audience some of his most audacious compositions with extraordinary technical facility. This is immediately evident in the print Dead Mother, from the series “Vom Tod” (Of Death), which incorporates etching and engraving to dramatically stunning effect. Death obsessed Klinger as a subject for artistic exploration from the time he was seventeen. It was a subject with a rich German print tradition, originating among the earliest engravers of the late fifteenth century. The imagery of death, at times ironic and at other times macabre, appears in many of Klinger’s prints. In the case of Dead Mother, there is also the evocation of transformation and the regenerative cycle. The mother has evidently died giving birth to the child. Her head, resting perpendicularly on the pillow, leaves her body seemingly dematerialized on the sarcophagus. The juxtaposition of the church architecture, exquisitely rendered, with the forest beyond, and the evocation of life and eternity (the shimmering sea in the distance) contrasted with the arid patch revealed beneath the sarcophagus reflect Klinger’s Symbolist sensibility.

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