August Sander

My Wife in Joy and Sorrow, 1911 (1911)

About this artwork

This intimate portrait of his wife Anna and their twin babies is the final image in the portfolio entitled ‘Woman and Child’ in August Sander’s documentary project ‘People of the 20th Century’. Taken in 1911, the photograph commemorates a double birth and death: the birth of a daughter Sigrid and the loss of her twin, a son. The title and composition evoke the close proximity of joy and sorrow in both parenthood and normal life: the babies are both dressed formally in garments that could equally be baptismal dresses or shrouds. Anna looks at the camera with fierce concentration, her face drawn with exhaustion and sorrow. She wears an unadorned dark dress and no jewelry, suggesting that she is in mourning for the dead infant despite the presence of his living sister, in this starkly direct insight into the photographer’s private life.

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  • title: My Wife in Joy and Sorrow, 1911
  • accession number: AL00048
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1911
  • measurements: 25.80 x 19.90 cm (paper 44.10 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.