August Sander: Farmer’s Children, ca. 1913
With his portrait work “People of the 20th Century” consisting of 7 groups and 45 portfolios, August Sander created a portrait of the society of his time. That he also included children, can been seen in numerous photographs. The attentive viewer can see them already in the Portfolio of Archetypes, but in particular in the portrait portfolios “The Farmer’s Child and the Mother”, “The Farmer’s Family”, “Woman and Child”, as well as “The Family”. It becomes clear not only how children find their role within the relevant social groups, but are also influenced by it. In particular from today’s point of view the pictures are revealing in the way in which people pose in front of the camera.
The photo “Farm Children, ca. 1913” shows a group of three small children in front of a garden fence. The boy on the left has his arm around a large dog which is integrated into the group like a playmate. The larger boy on the right is holding a small whip in his hand and there is a wooden horse in front of him. The smallest child in the middle is sitting in a push chair with a wooden handle and is holding a doll in her hand. The children’s clothing as well as the push chair bear witness to the past, the toys might be regarded as hints about possible jobs in the future and at the same time they confirm the traditional role models for boys and girls. Formally the children constitute a group, in particular through their body contact and the position of their hands. The small group is brought closer to the viewer through the close image cropping and the out of focus background. The serious facial expressions are very noticeable: The boy on the right is concentrating on the photographer whereas the small child seems to look very skeptically at the camera. As can be seen in many of Sander’s photos, it is clear that at the beginning of the 20th century taking photographs and being photographed – in contrast to today, where children smile at the camera even before they can talk – was not a matter of course. In country areas in particular the visit of a photographer who came for special holidays, weddings or for official family photos was a notable event.
In the collection of Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur there are two original prints of this image which tell us something about the different areas of Sander’s work. A small print in its original frame which came from a private collection gives us information about commissioned work, which Sander carried out as of ca. 1910 in the Westerwald region and in Cologne. A larger photograph demonstrates his artistic approach. Within this context the work “Farm Children, ca. 1913” was allocated its place in the portfolio “The Farmer’s Child and the Mother”.
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur