August Sander

Gewandhaus Quartet, 1921 (1921)

About this artwork

The Gewandhaus Quartet was founded in 1808 and is the oldest continuously active string quartet in the world. It forms part of the famous Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. This portrait is one of more than five hundred photographs that together constitute August Sander’s monumental project ‘People of the 20th Century’, in which he aimed to document the social types and classes of his time through the medium of photography. The project is today considered an invaluable source of information on Germany’s social and cultural history during the interwar years. This photograph is from the portfolio ‘The Performing Musician’, classified in the project’s fifth group entitled ‘The Artists’. Unlike the carefully composed and highly stylised photographs of musicians traditionally found in concert programmes, this picture emanates an sense of realism and immediacy. Gathered in formal surroundings and dressed in white tie, the four men appear to be taking a short break from performing to pose for Sander’s camera.

see media
  • title: Gewandhaus Quartet, 1921
  • accession number: AL00095
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1921
  • measurements: 19.80 x 26.00 cm (paper 43.80 x 33.80 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.