August Sander

My Wife in Joy and Sorrow, 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:
  • object type:
  • materials:
    Black and white photograph on paper
  • 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:
    © Photograph. Samml. / SK Stiftung Kultur - A. Sander Archiv, Köln /VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2017.
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

August Sander

August Sander