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Photograph - Children's Hands in a Washbasin
  • Children's Hands in a Washbasin
    Dörner, Erhard, born 1888 - died 1930
  • Enlarge image

Children's Hands in a Washbasin

  • Object:


  • Date:

    c. 1930 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dörner, Erhard, born 1888 - died 1930 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Copyright Estate of Erhard Dörner

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 922, box A

During the 1920s and 1930s photographers began to explore new sensations of space. They approached a subject from a variety of angles, above and below, to express the speed and dislocation of modern life. The result was a refreshed perception and appreciation of even the most everyday subjects and surroundings. Here, the ritual of washing hands becomes a study of forms, textures and dynamics. Nevertheless, the subject loses none of its human appeal.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of two pairs of children's hands (and arms) above a white circular wash-basin; one pair of hands holds a block of soap. The view point is from above.


c. 1930 (photographed)


Dörner, Erhard, born 1888 - died 1930 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver print


Length: 32.7 cm sheet, Width: 26 cm sheet

Object history note

Erhard Dörner worked in Germany during the 1930s as a painter and amateur photographer. His photography was displayed in the influential Film und Foto exhibition held in Stuttgart in 1929. Like many of the works in this exhibition, Dörner's photographs explored the new ideas about photography emerging from the Bauhau school of design. The Bauhaus artist and designer László Moholy-Nagy expressed this approach to photography in A New Instrument of Vision (1932):

"Through photography...we can participate in new experiences of space...we have attained an enlargement and sublimation of our appreciation of space, the comprehension of a new spatial culture. Thanks to the photographer humanity has acquired the power of perceiving its surroundings, and its very existence, with new eyes".

Descriptive line

Photograph by Erhard Dörner, 'Children's Hands in a Washbasin', gelatin-silver print, c.1930

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Sotheby's Auction Catalogue, 'Important Avant-Garde Photographs of the 1920s and 1930s: The Helene Anderson Collection', Friday 2 May, 1997

Labels and date

Gallery 100, 2016-17:

Erhard Dörner (1888–1933)
‘Children’s Hands in a Washbasin’
About 1930

During the 1920s and ’30s, photographers began to experiment with approaches to space and with photographing from unexpected angles. The images they created seemed to express the speed of modern life, and created a new appreciation of everyday subjects. Here, the ritual of washing hands becomes a study of forms, textures and dynamics.

Gelatin silver print
Museum no. E.799-1997 []


Photographic paper


Gelatin silver process

Subjects depicted

Hands; Soap (organic material); Water; Basins




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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