August Sander

Cleaning Woman, 1928 (1928)

About this artwork

In his monumental photographic project ‘People of the 20th Century’ August Sander aimed to chronicle the social structures and employment divisions of his time. He divided his collection of more than 500 photographs into seven groups: ‘The Farmer’, ‘The Skilled Tradesman’, ‘The Woman’, ‘Classes and Professions’, ‘The Artists’, ‘The City’ and ‘The Last People’. This portrait is from the portfolio entitled ‘Servants’ within the sixth group, ‘The City’. Most the photographs from this portfolio were taken in Sander’s studio in the Cologne district of Lindenthal, and usually portray their subjects in their working clothes. The cleaning lady depicted in this picture holds her broomstick before her like a protective weapon. Although her face and neck are lined by age and perhaps exhaustion, her arms appear strong and youthful from years of labour indoors. The woman’s upright posture and direct gaze express a sense of confidence. The picture shares its composition with the photographs that Sander took of representatives of such higher-ranking professions as lawyers and businessmen.

see media
  • title: Cleaning Woman, 1928
  • accession number: AL00105
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1928
  • measurements: 25.90 x 17.70 cm (paper 43.90 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.