A Young Girl in Ennis, Ireland
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© Oakland Museum of California, the City of Oakland

Dorothea Lange
American, 1954
Gelatin silver print
9 1/2 x 9 in.

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Lange believed that photographs should be made "not to show how great we are, but to show what it's like." In 1954 she undertook an assignment for a photographic essay for Life magazine and spent two months in the Irish countryside documenting the bleak life of the inhabitants of what the magazine dubbed the "land of the devout." Facing her subject head-on, Lange centered her Rolleiflex camera on the schoolgirl under natural lighting conditions. The neutral background enhances the sustained intimacy of the portrait. The girl's intense gaze seems to confront both the photographer and the viewer.