The painting "The Strike" shows the confrontation of an entrepreneur with a group of workers on strike. An angry crowd stands in front of a factory owner standing stiffly in tailcoat and cylinder on the stairs of his mansion, fighting with the leader of the angry crowd. His servant follows the scene pale with fright. The tense situation can turn into aggression at any time, a worker is already bending down to arm himself with stones. More workers stream in from the background, where smoking factory chimneys and harbor facilities are visible.
Robert Koehler (1850-1917) created this painting in Munich and presented it in 1886 at the spring exhibition of the National Academy of Design in New York, where it became a sensation. Due to the current political crisis situation, critics rated the picture as the most important contribution of the exhibition. The workers' eight-hour daily movement in the spring of 1886 had led to a nationwide strike wave in the USA, culminating in a mass strike on May 1, 1886 with some 350,000 workers in over 11,000 companies and a few weeks later being bloodily suppressed by the Haymarket massacre in Chicago. Through reproductions Koehler's painting became an icon of the workers' movement: The workers do not appear as beggars, but they self-confidently present their demands.


  • Title: The strike
  • Creator: Robert Koehler
  • Date Created: 1886
  • Location Created: Munich
  • Physical Dimensions: 181,6 x 275,6 cm
  • Subject Keywords: Workers' Movement
  • Rights: Deutsches Historisches Museum
  • External Link: DHM collection database
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Inventory no.: 1990/2920

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