A Step, 1883
etching on japan paper
62.9 x 45.7 cm; plate: 45.1 x 28 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 23131.4)
A young woman dressed in white leans away at the same time as she steps towards a procuress. A male customer smoking a cigar stands in the shadows on the left. Klinger organizes the space vertically between a lighter and a darker zone to emphasize the fact that the woman's step will lead her into the city's shadowy underworld. Her posture stresses her inevitable, although unwilling, entrance into prostitution. In the economically depressed Berlin of the 1870s, prostitution was on the rise, because an increasing number of working-class women could no longer find jobs as domestics or factory workers.