August SanderThe Man of the Soil 1910, printed 1990

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Artwork details

August Sander (1876‑1964)
The Man of the Soil
Der erdgebundene Mensch
Date 1910, printed 1990
MediumPhotograph, gelatin silver print on paper
Dimensionsimage: 258 x 189 mm frame: 482 x 382 x 32 mm
ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Lent by Anthony d'Offay 2010
On long term loan
Not on display


This black and white photograph is a three-quarter-length portrait of an elderly man posed in formal attire outdoors in a natural setting. The man is seated and holds the hook of a wooden walking stick with his right hand while clasping the staff with his left. He is seen in sharp focus whereas the background foliage is blurred. His loose-fitting dark jacket and shirt contrasts with both the patterning of his light-coloured trousers and the silvery whiteness of his beard and hair. The darkness of the background and of the man’s clothing has the effect of focusing attention on his wizened face and piercing gaze.

The photograph was taken by August Sander using a large format, glass plate camera with a long exposure time, the kind primarily used in portrait studios. This is one of many photographs taken by him of rural people from the wooded low mountain region of Westerwald in the German federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, and North Rhine-Westphalia. Westerwald was the region where the photographer was born, and it was where he travelled in search of new clients after setting up his portrait studio in Cologne-Lindenthal in 1910, having returned to Germany the previous year from Linz, Austria… (read more)

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