Beginning in the early 1920s, August Sander labored at an epic project titled People of the Twentieth Century—a collective portrait of German citizenry covering all classes and professions from aristocrats to beggars, artists to military men, farmers to lawyers, and bakers to bankers. Although Sander’s portrait style may have seemed artless at the time, and might still seem straightforward at first glance, his pictures were carefully considered, both unflinchingly true to life and sympathetic. With a curving tilt to his stance, one arm akimbo, and top hat slightly cocked, this black-clad farmer on his way to a funeral is sharply silhouetted against softly focused countryside behind him.

The formal simplicity of such pictures and Sander’s typological approach to his project were highly influential on subsequent generations of photographers.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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August Sander, German, 1876–1964
Bauer beim Kirchgang
Farmer on his way to church
from the series Menschen des 20. Jahrhunderts
from the series People of the 20th Century
Gelatin silver print
Image: 9 × 7 3/16 in. (22.9 × 18.3 cm) Sheet: 9 × 7 3/16 in. (22.9 × 18.3 cm) Mount: 14 15/16 × 11 1/16 in. (38 × 28.1 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by an anonymous donor in honor of Anne Wilkes Tucker, The Manfred Heiting Collection

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

Ex-collection Volker Kamen; Christie's, New York, October 7, 1993, lot 284. Bought by Manfred Heiting from Christie's New York, 10/16/1989.