The Woman of the Soil
© Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur - August Sander Archiv, Köln/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2015

Reference URL

The Woman of the Soil 1912
  • Artist Rooms
August Sander’s ambition to create a photographic documentation of all ‘types’ of German people resulted in the collection ‘The People of the 20th Century’. He divided his project into seven groups and the series began with photographs of rural farmers in the Westerwald region, in a group he called ‘The Farmer’. ‘The Woman of the Soil’ is the first female portrait in ‘The Portfolio of Archetypes’ and alludes in its title to the portfolio’s first image, ‘The Man of the Soil’ from 1910. This allusion illustrates Sander’s ambition to compile these images, the majority of which were the result of commissions between 1910 and 1914 in the Westerwald region, as a unified series to illustrate overarching themes in early twentieth century German society. It features an unusually scenic interior brimming with visual information. The floral wallpaper, richly carved cupboard and shelf of ceramic jars diagonally delineating the top of the picture plane flood the viewer with textural impressions and create a richly detailed and personal interior. Seated in a wooden chair with her feet upon a stool, her hands clasped on her knees and her lips pressed firmly together, the woman leans forward towards the viewer, seemingly in dialogue.


  • Acc. No. AL00006
  • Medium Black and white photograph on paper
  • Size 25.80 x 19.00 cm (paper 44.00 x 33.90 cm; mount: 46.00 x 36.00 cm; frame: 48.20 x 38.20 x 3.20 cm)
  • Credit ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by Anthony d'Offay 2010