August Sander

Farming Couple – Propriety and Harmony, 1912 (1912)

About this artwork

August Sander’s ambition to create a photographic documentation of all ‘types’ of German people resulted in the collection ‘The People of the 20th Century’. He divided his project into seven groups, the first of which he called ‘The Farmer’. This image appears in the sub-group, ‘The Portfolio of Archetypes’. The photograph is one of two compositions of the same title, shot in 1912. Here, Sander uses his title to evoke a world of meaning beyond this couple, photographed standing in a clearing before a wooded hill. The propriety and harmony suggested by the title are illustrated subtly in their poses. She leans lightly against the shoulder he proffers by lowering it in her direction; a slight but powerful indication of their intimacy and familiarity. The composition is determined by the vertical emphasis of tree trunks echoed in his walking stick. The couple’s sturdy materiality perhaps suggests the permanence of their union, cast as universal by Sander’s omission of their names.

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  • title: Farming Couple – Propriety and Harmony, 1912
  • accession number: AL00011
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1912
  • measurements: 25.80 x 18.70 cm (paper 43.90 x 33.80 cm; mount: 46.00 x 36.00 cm; frame: 48.20 x 38.20 x 3.20 cm)
  • credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by Anthony d'Offay 2010
  • copyright: © Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur - August Sander Archiv, Köln/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2016.
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

August Sander

August Sander

Considered one of the finest photographers of the twentieth century, Sander's bold style of portrait photography, as well as his typological approach, has had an enormous influence on modern photography. During his apprenticeship in several German studios and his time in his own studio in Austria, he developed his individual style. Then in 1910 Sander moved to Cologne and produced his first large group of photographs, which he later included in his concept "People of the 20th Century". This was created in the mid-1920s and compiled up until the 1950s. He photographed groups of people in his native Germany, classifying them according to their occupations and positions in society.