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DOROTHEA LANGE (1895-1965)
I can only say I knew I was looking at something...And you just hope you will have time enough to get it organized in a fraction of a second on that tiny piece of sensitive film. Sometimes you have an inner sense that you have encompassed the thing generally. You know that you are not taking anything away from anyone: their privacy, their dignity, their wholeness. Dorothea Lange
DOROTHEA LANGE (1895-1965)

White Angel Breadline, 1933

Details
DOROTHEA LANGE (1895-1965)
White Angel Breadline, 1933
gelatin silver print, printed 1950s
image: 13½ x 10 3/8in. (34.3 x 26.4cm.)
sheet: 13 5/8 x 10¾in. (34.5 x 27.3cm.)
Provenance
From the artist;
to Paul Caponigro;
to the present owner
Literature
Dorothea Lange, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1966, n.p.; Metzner, Dorothea Lange: A Photographer's Life, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1978, pp. 116-117; Partridge, ed., Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994, p. 105; Davis, The Photographs of Dorothea Lange, Hallmark Cards/Harry N. Abrams, 1995, cover and pp. 20-21; Borhan, Dorothea Lange: The Heart and Mind of a Photographer, Little, Brown and Co., 2001, pp. 70-71; Keller, In Focus: Dorothea Lange, Photographs in the J. Paul Getty Museum, The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002, p. 19

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Lot Essay

In 1932, in the depth of the Depression, Dorothea Lange felt that she had to get out of the studio and photograph what was going on outside. Many unemployed drifted about the streets with no shelter, no prospect of jobs, helpless because there was no planned relief. Nearby Lange's studio, a rich woman called the 'White Angel' had set up a bread line and Dorothea decided to document it, taking her brother Martin with her as she had no idea how these desperate souls would react to the intrusion of her camera. On that first outing, she took this photograph, one of her best. She made twelve exposures that day, three of them of the bread line. When she got home she removed the film from the camera and then handed it to her assistant so that he could reload it later. In the darkroom the next day, however, he discovered more film in the holder -- which included the frame of White Angel Breadline. Lange displayed a print of the image on the wall of her studio to see how people would react to it. Her portrait customers came in and merely glanced at it, confining their comments to 'What are you going to do with this kind of thing?'
White Angel Breadline is now considered to be one of the greatest images of the Depression era. It possesses both superb compositional sophistication and compelling emotional content. Early prints of the image, particularly from Lange's own collection, are exceptionally rare. Lange gave this print to photographer Paul Caponigro who in turn presented it to the present owner in the 1960s.

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