August Sander

Washerwoman, c.1930 (about 1930)

About this artwork

From the mid-1920s until the end of his life August Sander worked on his monumental photographic project ‘People of the 20th Century’, attempting to document the radical social transformations that his native Germany was undergoing. The project is divided into seven groups of photographs representing the social structures and employment divisions of the day. ‘Washerwoman’ derives from the portfolio ‘Types and Figures of the City’, which depicts people moving on the fringes of society within the sixth group, ‘The City’. Illustrating issues of social division and inequality, the portfolio provides an example of the growing interest in using photography as a means for social and political reform during Sander’s time. This portrait also exemplifies Sander’s supreme sense of form and composition. The washerwoman’s slumped pose echoes the drop of the draining piles of washing heaped on the water pump beside her which have a strikingly sculptural quality, while her face appears as battered as the garments she has been scrubbing.

see media
  • title: Washerwoman, c.1930
  • accession number: AL00131
  • artist: August SanderGerman (1874 - 1964)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Photograph
  • medium: Embossed paper in frame
  • date created: about 1930
  • measurements: 25.80 x 20.20 cm (paper 44.00 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.