Born near Hamburg, Barlach was a sculptor, printmaker and writer. From around 1896, he worked in an art nouveau style. However, after visiting his brother in Russia in 1906, he was struck by the solid and sturdy figures of the Russian peasants. Inspired by this and by medieval German carving, Barlach developed his own figure style. He made his first wooden sculptures in 1907. Although associated with the expressionist artists, Barlach stands slightly apart from them: he rarely distorted the human body beyond simplifying it.