Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
A relief plaque of a woman’s head resting against the chest of a larger unknown figure.

The plaque shows a woman surrounded by folds of a garment, her eyes are closed and her head leans to the left. Her left hand clutches the surrounding garment to her chin, the larger figure holds her right hand in his. The larger figure’s left-hand rests next to her.

Gallery Text

A committed pacifist whose son died in battle during World War I, Kollwitz is best known for her powerful anti-war graphic works, which often emphasize the suffering and sacrifice of those on the home front. This late work belongs, both formally and thematically, to a body of sculpture that is closely related to the artist’s graphic oeuvre. The self-contained, block-like forms she favored reveal the influence of the sculptor Ernst Barlach (whose Avenger is displayed nearby). Kollwitz created this sculpture during the Nazi period, when she was forbidden to exhibit or to sell her work. It was designed for her family’s gravestone, which can still be seen in Berlin’s Central Cemetery. The title, a line from a poem by Goethe, suggests that the massive protective hands are God’s; but both subject and composition echo Kollwitz’s many images of mothers and children.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Käthe Kollwitz, German (Königsberg, East Prussia 1867 - 1945 Moritzburg, Germany)
Grave-Relief (also: Rest in the Peace of His Hands)
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Grabrelief (Ruht im Frieden seiner Hände)
Work Type
sculpture, relief
1935-1936 (cast later)
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1500, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art in Germany Between the Wars
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

34.1 x 30.9 x 9 cm (13 7/16 x 12 3/16 x 3 9/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: on base of relief, in artist's hand: Kollwitz


Recorded Ownership History
Hans Kollwitz, sold; [Galerie St. Etienne, New York], 1962, sold; to Lewis Weinstein, 1963, gift; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1991.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of Lewis H. Weinstein, AB '27, JD '30 and Selma Yeslawsky Weinstein, '32
© Estate of Käthe Kollwitz, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • Peter Nisbet and Joseph Koerner, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, ed. Peter Nisbet, Harvard University Art Museums and Scala Publishers Ltd. (Cambridge, MA and London, England, 2007), p. 82

Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 1500 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Expressionism-Interwar), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/13/2023 - 01/01/2050
  • 32Q: 1510 German Expressionist Sculpture, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 06/06/2022

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at