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Simms (Dr. Richard A.) collection of prints and drawings by Käthe Kollwitz and other artists
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical / Historical Note: Dr. Richard A. Simms
  • Biographical / Historical Note: Käthe Kollwitz
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Dr. Richard A. Simms collection of prints and drawings by Käthe Kollwitz and other artists
    Date (inclusive): between 1849 and 1995
    Number: 2016.PR.34
    Creator/Collector: Simms, Richard A., Dr.
    Physical Description: 237.61 Linear Feet (3 boxes, 83 oversize boxes, 2 frames, 5 flatfile folders)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: The Dr. Richard A. Simms collection comprises 654 works on paper of which 530 are prints and working proofs and 124 are drawings. Assembled over a period of forty years, the core of the collection consists of 239 etchings, woodcuts, and lithographs and 47 drawings by Käthe Kollwitz; a total of 286 works by Kollwitz. Also included are prints and drawings by other significant artists in Kollwitz's orbit, including Ernst Barlach, George Grosz, Lovis Corinth, Max Klinger, Ludwig Meidner, Emil Nolde, Otto Greiner, among others.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record   for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection material is in German

    Biographical / Historical Note: Dr. Richard A. Simms

    Dr. Richard A. Simms is a renowned California-based art collector of prints and drawings by Käthe Kollwitz and other 19th and 20th-century German artists. The online art newspaper ArtDaily reported in 2010: "Dr. Richard A. Simms is an internationally recognized collector of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German prints and drawings. At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, he was chair of the Prints and Drawings Council and then a member of the Board of Trustees for twelve years. He now serves as the inaugural chair of the Collections Council of the Getty Research Institute." Dr. Simms acquired his art collection in Europe and the United States between 1973 and 2014, focusing predominantly on individual prints and drawings as well as portfolios of prints and books illustrated with original graphics by German artists from the mid-19th century until the end of World War II. His collecting interests extended also to French artists from the 18th and 19th centuries; the Belgian artist James Ensor; and at the beginning of his collecting, early graphic works by Dürer, Rembrandt, Goya, and Callot. Over the years, prints and drawings by Käthe Kollwitz became Dr. Simms's principal passion, which he followed not only through intense study and acquisition of the often multiple states and impressions of her works, but also by building a comprehensive private library of publications about Kollwitz and other artists of her time. A decisive moment in the building of the Kollwitz collection came in 1978 with an acquisition from the artist's estate, which had been inherited by her grandchildren. At once, Dr. Simms acquired 121 prints, including many Kollwitz herself advised her family not to sell because of their rarity. This acquisition included early and unique impressions from her print series Ein Weberaufstand ( Weaver's Revolt ), Bauernkrieg ( Peasants' War), Krieg ( War), and Tod ( Death); individual sheets such as self-portraits; and preparatory impressions for edition prints. From the same source, Dr. Simms also acquired a large drawing related to the monumental print Gedenkblatt für Karl Liebknecht ( In Memoriam Karl Liebknecht). In the 1980s, Dr. Simms continued to acquire important prints and significant drawings by Kollwitz at auction, such as the early study for Kollwitz's narrative print Szene aus Germinal ( Scene from Germinal) (1893). In the 1990s and 2000s, Dr. Simms continued to build the collection by adding rare proofs and state impressions, including rare working proofs for the series Peasants' War. In 1992, about fifteen years after he began collecting Kollwitz, expert in German Expressionist art, Hildegard Bachert pointed out, that Dr. Simms is "undoubtedly the most important Kollwitz collector in America today" and a collector who has a "… wide-ranging feeling for humanistically oriented graphic art." The quotation comes from the catalogue for the first survey exhibition devoted to Kollwitz in the United States. It was organized by the National Gallery of Art, which drew upon its own collection and works borrowed from more than twenty private collectors and museums in United States and Europe, including Dr. Simms. With over a hundred works on paper, the National Gallery of Art exhibition had a profound effect on Dr. Simms as it inspired him to explore Kollwitz's working process by seeking to acquire multiple states, and printing and working proofs of her works in order to provide comparative material that can enable scholars to explore how Kollwitz creates and changes the meaning of her artistic vision through the technical processes of printmaking.
    Dr. Richard A. Simms also sought to acquire prints and drawings by other German artists from Kollwitz's time and artistic orbit, such as Max Klinger, Emil Nolde, Otto Greiner, Ludwig Meidner, and George Grosz; building a comprehensive and important resource for the study of German art from the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
    The above note is informed by the following sources:
    Curatorial notes by Louis Marchesano, Curator of Prints and Drawings, Getty Research Institute.
    Artdaily online article "The Getty Announces Gift by Dr. Richard A. Simms in Memory of James N. Wood"; Artdaily website, viewed March 29, 2018.
    Bachert, Hildegard. "Collecting the Art of Käthe Kollwitz"; in: Prelinger, Elizabet. Käthe Kollwitz. Washington, National Gallery of Art, 1992.

    Biographical / Historical Note: Käthe Kollwitz

    Käthe Kollwitz was born on July 8, 1867 in Königsberg, Prussia, the fifth child of Karl and Katherina Schmidt. Her father was a Social Democrat with strong socialist opinions opposing Otto von Bismarck's authoritarian government. Her mother was the daughter of Julius Rupp, a Lutheran pastor who founded a congregation independent from state or church control, that advocated freedom of conscience for its members. Kollwitz's upbringing was influenced by her family's liberal political, social, and religious views. Encouraged by her father, Kollwitz began taking lessons in drawing as a teenager in Königsberg. In 1886, she enrolled in a private art school for women in Berlin, where she took lessons from Karl Stauffer-Bern, who introduced her to the etchings of Max Klinger. In 1888, at the age of twenty-one, she became engaged to Karl Kollwitz, a medical student in Königsberg and a member of the Social Democrats. Despite her engagement, between 1888 and 1890 Kollwitz lived alone in Munich and studied at the Damenakademie München, an art school for women, as in Germany art academies did not accept female students until after World War I. In Munich she witnessed the breakthrough of naturalistic painting en plein air and took an interest in literature and issues related to womens' rights. She produced drawings and prints inspired by Émil Zola's novel Germinal. In 1891, Karl and Käthe married and settled in a working class neighborhood in Berlin, where Karl opened a medical practice as one of the first physicians implementing a new social and medical insurance for workers, which was the first European system of health insurance, raised from mandatory fees shared by the workers, the employers, and the state. They had two sons, Hans, born in 1892; and Peter, born in 1896. In her artistic work Kollwitz focused initially on drawing and graphics. She engaged in exploring various printing techniques, including etching, drypoint, aquatint, soft ground, woodcut and lithography; often experimenting by mixing various techniques and using unconventional tools, such as sand paper or needle bundles. In later years, she also turned to sculpture, while still producing graphic works. Inspired by Gerhard Hauptmann's naturalistic drama Die Weber ( The Weavers ) based on the revolt of Silesian weavers in 1844 and first performed in Berlin in 1893, Kollwitz produced a series of etchings and lithographs based on the weavers theme. The series was exhibited publicly in 1898 to wide acclaim, but when Adolf Menzel nominated her work for the gold medal at the Grosse Deutsche Kunstausstellung in Berlin, Kaiser Wilhelm II withheld his approval.
    An illustrated edition of Wilhelm Zimmermann's Allgemeine Geschichte des grossen Bauernkrieges ( General History of the Great Peasants' War ), written between 1841 and 1843, is believed to be the source of Kollwitz's second major series of prints, the Bauernkrieg ( Peasants' War). From 1901 to 1908 Kollwitz produced many preliminary drawings and discarded impressions in etching, aquatint, and soft ground for it, while relentlessly perfecting her technical skills and artistic expression. Completed in 1908, the series was printed for mass circulation by the publishing house Kunstsalon Emil Richter in Dresden.
    In 1903, she produced in several states the etching Frau mit totem Kind ( Woman with Dead Child), whose harrowing subject, together with the sculptural quality of her treatment of the motif, marked the most innovative time in her career as a graphic artist.
    While working on the Peasants' War, Kollwitz visited Paris twice. In 1901 she met Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen and admired his color etchings; the art dealer and collector Otto Ackermann introduced her to the art galleries in Paris, and Kollwitz acquired a pastel by Picasso. During a study trip to Paris in 1904, she enrolled in sculpting classes at the Académie Julian and visited the studio of August Rodin. Between 1901 and 1904 most of her graphic works were in color.
    In November 1901, as a member of the Berliner Secession, she showed her color combination print Frau mit Orange ( Woman with Orange ), produced in various intaglio techniques and in lithography, and the journal Kunst für Alle praised her technical innovations.
    In 1907, her etching Losbruch ( Outbreak), produced between 1902 and 1903, was awarded the Villa Romana Prize – founded by Max Klinger – giving her the opportunity for an extended stay in a studio in Florence. She embarked on a hiking tour from Florence to Rome.
    From 1908 to 1910, Kollwitz worked as a freelancer for the satirical magazine Simplicissimus. In 1912, she was elected to the board of the Berliner Secession and, after the split in the Berliner Secession in 1913, she became member of the board of the Freie Secession and co-founder and chairwoman of the Frauenkunstverband (Association of Female Artists). The early 1910s also marked the beginning of her sculptural work.
    In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, Kollwitz lost her son Peter in a battle in Belgium in the first days of the war. Grieving, Kollwitz began to make drawings for a monument to her son and his fallen comrades. The sculpture Die trauernden Eltern ( The Greaving Parents) was completed in 1932 and placed in a war cemetery in Belgium.
    From the early 1910s onward Kollwitz's work increasingly reflected social and political commitment. Her works focused on themes of social injustice and the hardships of the living conditions of the poor working class in pre- and post-WWI Germany, predominantly among women and children. The themes of her works are poverty, hunger, motherhood, illness, death, and bereavement. Between 1918 and 1922, at the time of enormous economic depression in Germany, she produced a series of woodcuts called Krieg ( War) in response to the tragedies endured by those left behind – mothers, widows, and children. After the assassination of the German radical and communist revolutionary Karl Liebknecht in 1919, Kollwitz produced etchings and lithographs about Liebknecht's death, focusing on the theme of mourning. She produced several commercially-distributed socially and politically engaged posters, including the poster Helft Russland ( Help Russia ), from 1921, a contribution to overcoming the catastrophic drought in the Volga area.
    Throughout her career, Kollwitz made numerous self-portraits, from a vibrant young woman in Munich until her portrait in profile at old age, from 1938.
    As a living artist Kollwitz gained remarkable recognition. In 1917, on her 50th birthday, numerous exhibitions were staged in Germany, with the Berlin Print Room showing the entire collection of her graphic works. The Paul Cassirer Gallery in Berlin exhibited a large number of drawings, and the show travelled to Königsberg, Dresden, Hamburg, and Mannheim. In 1920, Kollwitz became the first woman elected to the prestigious Prussian Academy of Art. She participated in print exhibitions of the academy until 1934. At her own request, she didn't start teaching until 1928.
    Under National Socialism Kollwitz was not declared "degenerate," but she was removed from her post at the academy and banned from exhibiting. Her works were confiscated from public collections. The art dealers entrusted with sales of her works were Bernard A. Böhmer, Karl Buchholz, and Hildebrandt Gurlitt. She continued to draw and produce prints, and made several small-scale sculptures, and managed to show a selection of her works in her studio in the Klostergasse, in Berlin. Between 1934 and 1937 she completed her last series Tod ( Death), an eight-piece work on the theme of death. In 1934, an interview with Kollwitz was published in a Russian newspaper in Moscow. The Gestapo threatened her with deportation in the case of a recurrence. Meanwhile, in the United States, Kollwitz' fame continued to grow. The Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, organized a Kollwitz exhibition in 1933. In 1934, Harvard University presented prints by the artist. There was a show at the Hudson Gallery in New York in 1937. The College Art Association organized touring exhibitions of Kollwitz's work in 1934-1935. Zeitlins Bookshop and Gallery in Los Angeles and the Fine Arts Gallery in San Diego staged exhibitions in 1937, followed by shows in the early 1940s organized by the American Federation of Arts, the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York. In short, the United States become a major market for her works. The American collector Lessing J. Rosenwald acquired 115 prints and 27 drawings by Kollwitz, and later donated the entire collection to the National Gallery in Washington.
    Karl Kollwitz died on 19 July 1940. In 1941, Kollwitz produced in limited edition the print Saatfrüchte sollen nicht vermahlen werden ( Seeds for Sowing Should Not Be Milled), considered her legacy. Her eldest grandson Peter died in war in Russia in 1942. In 1943, Kollwitz's studio in Berlin was bombed and many drawings, prints and documents were destroyed. In 1944 she evacuated to Moritzburg near Dresden. Just weeks before the war ends, Käthe Kollwitz died on April 22, 1945.
    Throughout her career, Kollwitz graphic works were widely published. The two series The Weavers and Peasants' War established her reputation as an artist of considerable artistry and technical competence. The publisher Verlag Emil Richter in Dresden gained exclusive publication rights, and from 1910 to 1930 extensively published and distributed her complete graphic works. Max Lehrs, director of the Dresden Print Room, both acquired her work for the collection and published the first catalog of her prints in 1902, which Johannes Sievers augmented in 1913. In 1927, the Richter publishing house issued an incomplete list of her prints made from 1913 to 1927, compiled by A. Wagner. In the early 1930s, the Swiss art historian and art dealer, August Klipstein, began to write a new comprehensive catalogue raisonné of Kollwitz's prints in consultation with the publisher and collector Alexander von der Becke, who after the bankruptcy of Emil Richter in 1931 became Kollwitz's publisher. Klipstein died in 1951, before completing his work, but in 1955 the catalogue raisonné was published by Klipstein's successor, E. W. Kornfeld, with the assistance of Klipstein's widow, Frieda Klipstein, and the collector Helmut Goedeckemeyer. In 2002, the German art historian Alexandra von dem Knesebeck published her two-volume comprehensive catalogue raisonné of graphics by Kollwitz. The German painter and communist activist, Otto Nagel, compiled the first comprehensive catalogue raisonné of Kollwitz's drawings. After Nagel's death in 1967, his work was continued by the art historian Werner Timm, in collaborative effort with Nagel's daughter, Sibylle Schallenberg-Nagel, and Kollwitz's son, Hans Kollwitz. The catalogue raisonné of Kollwitz's drawings was first published in 1972 by the Galerie St. Etienne in New York.
    After the war, Kollwitz's work received very different receptions on both sides of the Berlin Wall and outside of Germany. Today, her works continue to spark debates among artists and art critics. The award-winning German art critic, Kito Nedo, summarized the postwar reception of Kollwitz in an essay posted at artnet News website in 2017. In Nedo's words, "... in East Germany, the artist [Kollwitz] … was venerated as a national hero and thus used for political ends-undeterred by regular references in the West to her diaries, in which she argues for the political independence of art." By the mid-1950s, the Western art world largely lost interest in Kollwitz. In 1981, the American art theorist, Lucy Lippard, argued that this lack of interest resulted from the postwar notion of the artist as a "lofty genius" or an "outsider" while Kollwitz's socially and politically engaged themes focused on matters of real life. In 1967, the critic Gottfried Sello wrote in the West-German weekly Die Zeit that "… in spite of her progressive ideas, Kollwitz is an arch-conservative artist" (cited by Nedo). According to Nedo, the contemporary historiography and reception of Kollwitz prefers a less-politicized view. This trend can be observed in the recent biography of Kollwitz by Yvonne Schymura, who views the artist as "free of political and personal engagements" (cited by Nedo). Exhibitions in Germany held in 2017 on the artist's 150th birth anniversary focused on self-portraits (Käthe Kollwitz Museum Cologne) and on her circle of friends (Käthe Kollwitz Museum Berlin); another exhibition in Berlin at Galerie Parterre explored her links to the city of Berlin. In the United States, the Metropolitan Museum curator, Jennifer Farrell, included Kollwitz's work in the exhibition World War I and the Visual Arts as representative of the historical period. The British Museum in London and the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham focused on Kollwitz's creativity in the exhibition Portrait of the Artist: Käthe Kollwitz. Contemporary German artists, such as Katharina Sieverding or Martin Kippenberger, have made references to the notions of empathy in Kollwitz's works. For the New York City-based feminist artists' group, Guerrilla Girls, Kollwitz is an inspiring role model. Finally, in his essay, Nedo argued that the world has "never really forgotten" about Kollwitz and her continued presence should be attributed to the universal humanist visual language that characterizes her work.
    The above note is informed by the following sources:
    Undated manuscript of Kollwitz biography compiled by the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Cologne, held at the Getty Research Institute.
    Bachert, Hildegard. "Collecting the Art of Käthe Kollwitz"; in: Prelinger, Elizabet. Käthe Kollwitz. Washington, National Gallery of Art, 1992.
    Knesebeck, Alexandra von dem. Käthe Kollwitz: Verzeichnis der Graphik . Bern, Verlag Kornfeld, 2002.
    Lippard, Lucy R. Käthe Kollwitz, Graphics, Posters, Drawings . London, Writers and Readers, 1981.
    Nedo, Kito. "Why Käthe Kollwitz, an Icon of German Modern Art, Is Still So Controversial on Her 150th Anniversary"; in: artnet News website, posted July 18, 2017, viewed March 29, 2018.

    Administrative Information


    Series I is restricted. Contact the repository for information regarding access. Series II is in process; unavailable for use until processing is complete.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Dr. Richard A. Simms collection of prints and drawings by Käthe Kollwitz and other artists, between 1888 and 1941, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2016.PR.34

    Acquisition Information

    Partial Gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms.
    The drawing The People [ Das Volk ] by Käthe Kollwitz (Nagel/Timm 977) and her drawing Girl with a Child in Her Arm [ Mädchen mit Kind auf dem Arm ] (Nagel/Timm 700) are the gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms in honor of Hildegard Bachert. The print Praying Young Woman [ Betendes Mädchen] by Käthe Kollwitz (Knesebeck 14.Ib) is the gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms in honor of Elizabeth Perlinger. The watercolor Self-Portrait in Barcelona by Walter Gramatté is a gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms and was received as an addition to the collection. The drawings Street at Night II and Self-Portrait with Tongue Sticking Out by Ludwig Meidner are a gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms and were received as an addition to the collection. The watercolor Blooming Cactuses by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff is a gift of Dr. Richard A. Simms in honor of Louis Marchesano and was received as an addition to the collection.

    Processing History

    The collection was processed by Christina Aube, Lisa Forman, Lauren Graber, Natascha Kirchner, Allison Ransom, Vladimira Stefura, and Isabella Zuralski-Yeager. Isabella Zuralski-Yeager wrote the finding aid.
    Currently, only Series I is processed. Series II will be available when cataloging is completed.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Assembled over a period of forty years, the collection comprises 654 works on papers, including 530 prints and 124 drawings by Käthe Kollwitz and other artists in her artistic orbit, such as Max Klinger, Ernst Barlach, Lovis Corinth, George Grosz, Ludwig Meidner, Emil Nolde, Otto Greiner, among others.
    Series I. consists of prints and drawings by Käthe Kollwitz acquired by Dr. Simms in Europe and the United States between 1973 and 2014. Present are 239 graphic works in intaglio, woodcut and lithography; and forty-seven drawings; a total of 286 works.
    Dating from 1891 to 1941, the prints represent the entire spectrum of Kollwitz's graphic work. As several proof impressions and states of a print are frequently present, the collection provides a unique opportunity to explore the progression of Kollwitz's artistic vision from state to state through the analysis of her often innovative and experimental application of printing tools and techniques, and testifies to the collector's particular interest in Kollwitz's workshop and her understanding of the printing process.
    The drawings by Käthe Kollwitz date from 1888 to 1928, with the bulk dating from the late 1890s and the early 1900s and from 1919 and the early 1920s. Numerous drawings are preparatory studies for prints, which are present in the collection. Also present are four portfolios of prints by Kollwitz, including the so-called Richter Mappe from 1920; numerous postwar exhibition posters, including several from California; vintage portrait photographs of Kollwitz; and letters sent by Kollwitz.
    Series II. consists of prints, drawings, and portfolios of prints by artists from the artistic orbit of Kollwitz; postwar exhibition posters; some artists' correspondence, and manuscripts.
    Currently, only series I is processed. Series II will be available when cataloging is completed.


    Organized in two series: Series I. Käthe Kollwitz, 1888-1941; Series II. Other artists.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Kollwitz, Käthe, 1867-1945
    Liebknecht, Karl Paul August Friedrich, 1871-1919

    Subjects - Topics

    Art, German -- 20th century
    Art, German--19th century

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Lithographs -- Germany -- 20th century
    Drawings (visual works) -- Germany -- 20th century
    Etchings (prints) -- Germany -- 20th century
    Prints (visual works) -- Germany -- 20th century
    Drawings (visual works) -- Germany -- 19th century
    Lithographs -- Germany -- 19th century
    Etchings (prints) -- Germany -- 19th century
    Prints (visual works) -- Germany -- 19th century
    Pen and ink drawings -- Germany -- 19th century
    Charcoal drawings -- Germany -- 19th century
    Drypoints (prints) -- Germany -- 19th century
    Drypoints (prints) -- Germany -- 20th century
    Aquatints (prints) -- Germany -- 19th century
    Aquatints (prints) -- Germany -- 20th century
    Soft-ground etchings (visual works) -- Germany -- 20th century
    Woodcuts (prints) -- Germany -- 20th century
    Photolithographs -- Germany -- 20th century
    Charcoal drawings -- Germany -- 20th century
    Pastels (visual works) -- Germany -- 20th century
    Pencil drawings -- Germany -- 20th century
    Chalk drawings -- Germany -- 20th century
    Gouaches (paintings) -- Germany -- 20th century
    Pen and ink drawings -- Germany -- 20th century
    Soft-ground etchings (visual works) -- Germany -- 19th century
    Transfer lithographs -- Germany -- 20th century


    Simms, Richard A., Dr.
    Kollwitz, Käthe, 1867-1945
    Becke, Alexander von der, 1902-1959
    Felsing, Otto, 1854-
    Felsing, Wilhelm
    Richter, Emil
    H. Meysel Nachfol.