The J. Paul Getty Museum

[Young Farmers (Jungbauern)].

Object Details


[Young Farmers (Jungbauern)].


August Sander (German, 1876 - 1964)




Germany (Place Created)


summer 1914


Gelatin silver print

Object Number:



23.3 × 17 cm (9 3/16 × 6 11/16 in.)


© J. Paul Getty Trust

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Object Description

Having grown up in the Westerwald and speaking the local dialect, August Sander knew the land and its people well. In this picture he focuses his lens on three young farmers he probably encountered on one of his frequent Sunday cycling trips to the area. The men are caught in transit, their walk interrupted when they happen upon the itinerant photographer. Their identical dark suits, snappy hats, and walking sticks suggest that the desire of young people to dress alike is not new. The men are en route to a dance in a neighboring village, rural flaneurs on their way to meet the girls. As if arrested in mid-stride, they turn their heads to face the camera. Time and motion in this image seem strangely suspended, lending the scene an eerie, cinematographic quality that is quite different from the static portraits Sander had produced earlier. The picture overflows with descriptive information and narrative detail, yet it remains ambiguous and open to interpretation. What was the men's relationship to each other and to the photographer? What was the nature of their transaction?

It is unclear whether this is a commissioned portrait or whether Sander took the picture on his own initiative, discovering in the subject a deeper philosophical significance and artistic challenge. He may have sensed that the journey of the three men was also an allegorical one: from youth to adulthood, from country to city, from the familiar geography of the past to the
disjointed spaces of modernity—a whole generation of young, rural males caught in limbo. The realization that these are the men who would soon fight and die in the Great War imbues the scene with a sense of melancholy—a mournful foreshadowing that probably was not lost on Sander.

Originally published in August Sander, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum by Claudia Bohn-Spector (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000), 20. ©2000, J. Paul Getty Trust.

- 1964

August Sander, German, 1876 - 1964, by inheritance to his son, Gunther Sander, 1964.

1964 - late 1960s

Gunther Sander, German, 1907 - 1987, sold to Volker Kahmen and Georg Heusch, late 1960s.

late 1960s - 1984

Volker Kahmen & Georg Heusch, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

August Sander: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (September 22 to October 30, 1988)
  • Stiftung Bahnhof Rolandseck, September 22 to October 30, 1988
August Sander: Faces of the German People (May 21 to November 3, 1991)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), May 21 to July 28, 1991
  • J.B. Speed Art Museum (Louisville), September 17 to November 3, 1991
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Capturing Time: A Celebration of Photographs (December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998
August Sander: People of the Twentieth Century (November 16, 2007 to September 14, 2008)
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), November 16, 2007 to February 3, 2008
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 6 to September 14, 2008

Sander, August. Antlitz der Zeit: Sechzig Aufnahmen Deutscher Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts, mit einer Einleitung von Alfred Döblin. (München: Transmare: K. Wolff, 1929).

Naef, Weston J. August Sander: Faces of the German People, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), cover.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Photographs (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), p. 97.

Naef, Weston, ed. In Focus: August Sander; Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles : J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000).

Sander, August. Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts : ein Kulturwerk in Lichtbildern eingeteilt in sieben Gruppen = People of the 20th century : a cultural work of photographs divided into seven groups = Hommes du XXe sie`cle : une œuvre culturelle divise´e en sept groupes Vol 1 Der Bauer/ The Farmer/ Le paysan/ August Sander ; herausgegeben von Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur ; bearbeitet und neu zusammengestellt von Susanne Lange, Gabriele Conrath-Scholl, Gerd Sander. (New York: Distributed by H. N. Abrams, 2002).