Washerwoman, about 1930
© Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur - August Sander Archiv, Köln/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2015

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Washerwoman, about 1930 c 1930
  • Artist Rooms
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.


  • Acc. No. AL00131
  • Medium Black and white photograph on paper
  • Size 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 ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Lent by Anthony d'Offay 2010