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Photograph - The Boxers - Paul Roderstein and Hein Hesse
  • The Boxers - Paul Roderstein and Hein Hesse
    Sander, August, born 1876 - died 1964
  • Enlarge image

The Boxers - Paul Roderstein and Hein Hesse

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    1928 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sander, August, born 1876 - died 1964 (photographer)
    Sander, Gunther (printer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Copyright August Sander Archive

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 989, box C

This image of two boxers was taken by the photographer August Sander for his project ‘Citizens of the 20th Century’. This was a project he started in 1910 to photograph people in their own environments, ordered into groups defined by trade or appointed function. The way he has posed the figures, full length, hands by their sides, facing and acknowledging the camera is typical of much of the series. The improvised quality of the image, with the men standing against the rough wall, is emphasised by the sharp focus and the boxer’s unromantic poses. Sander often photographed people in pairs, which makes the viewer compare his sitters physically and speculate on the differences in their character.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of two men in boxing outfits, standing bolt upright against a plain wall and facing the camera head-on. One man has a bare chest, the other a vest and a bandaged hand.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)


1928 (made)


Sander, August, born 1876 - died 1964 (photographer)
Sander, Gunther (printer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver print

Object history note

August Sander became interested in photography as a young man. He bought a portrait studio in Austria in 1903 and produced the soft, Pictorialist-style portraits which were fashionable at that time. In 1910 he moved his business to Cologne and began his project ‘Man of the 20th Century’, photographing people in their own environments, ordered into groups defined by trade or appointed function. These images were naturalistic and not retouched, Sander’s preferred visual style for his own work. In 1927 he exhibited 60 images from the ‘Man of the 20th Century’ project in Cologne and his first book Faces of our Time (1929) also showed a small selection from his physiognomic study. The Nazi regime was unsympathetic towards Sander’s photography and his family’s political beliefs (his eldest son died in prison in 1944). In 1934 the printing plates for Faces of our Time were confiscated. Sander’s photography was not political but his project included many types of people, some of which were persecuted by the Nazis. Sander not only presented German people as made up of various groups, but also in a realistic rather than heroic light. The opposition to his work led him to concentrate on photographing landscapes and botanical studies, work which continued to contemplate the German environment but did not create conflict with Nazi officials. After the war Sander returned to the ‘Man of the 20th Century’ project, reprinting old negatives and producing some new photographs. MoMA in New York accepted 40 of his photographs into their collection in 1953 and some of his work appeared in the ‘Family of Man’ exhibition curated by Edward Steichen at MoMA. Sander’s wife died in 1957, after which Sander did not feel strong enough to continue his life’s project. He died three months after a severe stroke in 1964.

Descriptive line

20thC; Sander August,Die Boxer:Paul Roderstein,Hein Hesse

Production Note

Printed by Gunther Sander

Subjects depicted



Photographs; Portraits


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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