August Sander

Working Class Mother, 1927 (1927)

About this artwork

The composition of ‘Working-class Mother’ echoes the religious iconography of the Madonna and child. The portrait comes from the portfolio ‘The Worker – His Life and Work’ in August Sander’s ambitious photographic project ‘People of the 20th Century’. Sander conceived the project, to construct a typology of the German people organised by estate, profession and living environment in the 1920s, dividing the project into seven groups and over 45 portfolios following these categories. Standing in a doorway, her silhouette emphasised by the dark interior behind her and the door’s wooden frame, the working-class mother is dressed in her everyday clothes. She holds up her baby, displaying its chubby bare legs to the photographer with a friendly smile. Sander highlights the class of his subject through the title and the setting, which is in stark contrast to more middle-class portraits such as ‘Mother and Daughter’ (around 1926), included in the group ‘The Woman’.

see media
  • title: Working Class Mother, 1927
  • accession number: AL00036
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1927
  • measurements: 25.80 x 18.80 cm (paper 43.90 x 34.00 cm; mount: 46.00 x 36.00 cm) (framed: 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.