August Sander

The Varnisher, about 1930 (about 1930)

About this artwork

In his photographic project ‘People of the 20th Century’ August Sander attempted to create a typology of the German people particular to that time. Photographed in Cologne, the ‘Varnisher’ is included in the portfolio ‘Working Types – Physical and Intellectual’ contained within the second group ‘The Skilled Tradesman’. In this strikingly physical portrait the tradesman, with his sleeves rolled up, looks as if he is photographed midway through his working day. Sander uses contrasting scale and light to convey a sense of monumentality; the man is dwarfed by the doorframe and doorsill that frame him in proportion with his oversize wooden clogs. Bright daylight illuminates the texture of the paint cracking on the wooden frame, the dotted stains on the varnisher’s apron and the coarse ground beneath him, set against the darkness of the interior space behind.

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  • title: The Varnisher, about 1930
  • accession number: AL00041
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: about 1930
  • measurements: 26.00 x 19.00 cm (paper 44.00 x 33.90 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.