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

Reference URL

The Philosopher 1913
  • 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’. His ambition to produce a catalogue of documentary images by using photography as a timeless mode of communication resulted in a collection of images that stand alone as works, but are most impressive in their wider context. This seated portrait is the female counterpart to ‘The Philosopher’ and stands alongside it in the ‘Portfolio of Archetypes’. The foci of this seated three-quarter length portrait are the woman’s face and hands that are in stark contrast to the dark background. She intently holds a book which references the photograph’s title. The dark background is broken by the use of the high-backed chair, set at a slight angle, its curving lines dynamic in this otherwise calm and tightly focussed portrait.


  • Acc. No. AL00007
  • Medium Black and white photograph on paper
  • Size 25.90 x 18.40 cm (paper 43.9 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