August Sander

Widow and her Sons, about 1921 (about 1921)

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’. Composed of over 500 images, Sander divided the opus into seven groups and over 45 portfolios according to the living environments, professions and estates of his subjects. The first group in the series is ‘The Farmer’, which contains twelve portfolios; this image appears in the portfolio, ‘The Farmer’s Child and the Mother’. This photograph of a widowed mother and her sons is presented as a moving reminder of the absent father by its title ‘Widow with her Sons’. While the portfolio ‘The Farmer’s Child and the Mother’ as a whole emphasises the theme of generations, this is the sole image in which Sander, by the title alone, refers to the human and universal experience of loss, particularly relevant to the population of post-First World War Germany. The darkened room frames the triangular composition of the family, whose resemblance is striking. The mother and her older son hold upright postures and look solemnly into the lens, while the younger leans into his mother. Though this photograph engages with the highly personal experience of loss, Sander intended his subjects to be experienced as representatives of their position and experience, but not stereotypes or clichés.

see media
  • title: Widow and her Sons, about 1921
  • accession number: AL00018
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: about 1921
  • measurements: 25.80 x 19.00 cm (paper 44.00 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.