August Sander

Death Mask of Erich Sander, 1944 (1944)

About this artwork

This is one of the few personal images included within August Sander’s monumental documentary project ‘People of the 20th Century’. It is a photograph of a death mask of Sander’s son Erich that was made by the Cologne painter and sculptor Hans Schmitz (1896–1977) on Sander’s request. Erich had been active in left-wing political movements in the early 1930s and was persecuted by the National Socialists in 1934. He died tragically in Siegburg prison in 1944, having been denied medical assistance to treat an acute infection. Sander included the photograph in the seventh and final group of images in his project, entitled ‘The Last People’. Together with two photographs from this group that show a man and woman on their deathbeds, the image testifies to Sander’s reflections on the cycle of life and death to which we are all subject.

see media
  • title: Death Mask of Erich Sander, 1944
  • accession number: AL00119
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: 1944
  • measurements: 25.90 x 19.20 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.