Young Bourgeois Mother, Cologne
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© J. Paul Getty Trust

August Sander
German, Cologne, 1926
Gelatin silver prints
5 13/16 x 6 11/16 in.

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In this idyllic image of Frau Steinrücke with her child and small dog, August Sander depicted a scene of leisure specifically associated with middle-class Weimar Germany. Seated on the grass, the baby smiles at the camera while the mother gazes contentedly and the dog stands proudly beside her. The absent father is presumably at work.

One scholar astutely observed that, although "Sander claimed that his photographs were primarily documentary, . . . they also inevitably articulated anxieties and desires shared by many of his contemporaries." Germany in the mid-1920s experienced political and economic chaos. By posing a woman with her child in a landscape, Sander emphasized women's domestic role and tie to nature rather than their increasing political and wage-earning power. Perhaps because it reinforces traditional social tenets, this portrait conveys a sense of stability and calm, despite the fact that it was made during a period of fragmentation and turmoil.