Saturday, August 16, 2008

The past is another country


August Sander, Peasants (1914)
I stood in the National Gallery in London for a long time looking at this picture. There is something so elegant and dignified about their faces, full of hope; on the way to the dance and wearing their best suits. I thought of William Trevor's wonderful short story, The Ballroom of Romance, about rural Ireland in the 1950s: hopeful, lonely people making their way to the nearest ballroom, some walking or cycling for miles for the promise of love.
There's an interesting article here by John Berger about this photograph, and others in the Sander catalogue: his project, cut short by the war, was to capture "Citizens of the Twentieth Century".

5 comments:

Mancsoulsister said...

It is a lovely photo. However I have to say when I first looked at it I thought the person in the middle was Radclyffe Hall. Goodness knows where that came from!

LottieP said...

I think this may be the image of Radclyffe Hall which you are thinking of - I can see why you thought of it.

Mancsoulsister said...

yes - I think it is probably the hat!

I do love looking at these old black and white photos. You have a real eye for the more beautiful compositions.

Claire said...

For another wonderful nose, see Frederick Henry Evans's portrait of Aubrey Beardsley. Sorry, don't know how to do hyperlinks here.

LottieP said...

You mean this one?