Ernst Barlach, ‘The First Day’, 1920, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
image: 25.7 x 35.9 cm (10 1/8 x 14 1/8 in.)

About Ernst Barlach

Ernst Barlach produced powerful wood and bronze sculptures depicting weary, rugged figures with great dignity. Strong, bulky peasants with expressive faces were his typical subjects, evoking the folk art he encountered in Russia. For instance, in one of his best known works, The Singing Man (1928) sits clasping one knee and leaning back, raising his face to the sky as if lost in reverie. A brief stint serving in WWI converted Barlach into a pacifist, after which he produced myriad monuments warning of the consequences of war, displayed throughout Germany. Later in life, he concentrated on prints, producing hundreds of black-and-white lithographs and woodcuts, some of which illustrated books and plays he wrote himself. Like his sculptures, the prints show the influence of Gothic art.

German, 1870-1938, Wedel, Germany

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