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The Aesthetics of LossGerman Women's Art of the First World War$
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Claudia Siebrecht

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199656684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656684.001.0001

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Mourning Mothers

Mourning Mothers

Chapter:
(p.104) 4 Mourning Mothers
Source:
The Aesthetics of Loss
Author(s):

Claudia Siebrecht

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656684.003.0005

In their wartime art, a number of female artists presented a complex narrative of filial sacrifice in war that highlighted the considerable contribution made by women and emphasized the particularly painful nature of maternal bereavement. Importantly, these visual narratives tended to draw on religious rather than patriotic or national tropes, and many employed the figure of Mary, which offered a familiar and potentially comforting framework for wartime experiences. As a comparison with some examples of wartime art produced by German men will demonstrate, male artists contested and resented both the idea of martial motherhood and shared female sacrifice; some even blamed mothers for tolerating the conflict. These contrasting representations of the figure of the mother in war are rooted in gendered ideas about women's identities and wartime roles.

Keywords:   maternalism, soldier-sons, sacrifice, mater dolorosa, pietà

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