August Sander

Three Generations of the Family, 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 title indicates that it is a family portrait. It features an arrangement of seated and standing figures against a backdrop of trees. This portfolio, devoted to the exploration of the universal, human characteristics present in rural populations, is enriched by Sander’s family photograph, particularly because it is the first inclusion of children and youth. The different generations are also reflected in the family members’ carefully chosen clothing. The father’s modern suit and waistcoat contrast with the grandfather’s traditional tunic shirt, while the girls’ dresses and hair are juxtaposed with the grandmother’s formal costume and scarf. The theme of generations resurfaces in the later portfolio, ‘The Farmer’s Child and the Mother’, in such images as ‘Grandmother and Granddaughter’.

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  • title: Three Generations of the Family, 1912
  • accession number: AL00013
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1912
  • measurements: 18.20 x 25.80 cm (paper 43.90 x 34.00 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.