Auction 1021, Photography, 26.11.2013, 14:00, Cologne Lot 82

August Sander, Köln - Rheinufer mit Dom und St. Martin (Cologne, Rhine with Cathedral and St. Martin)

 Köln - Rheinufer mit Dom und St. Martin (Cologne, Rhine with Cathedral and St. 
Martin), 1935/36, Auction 1021 Photography, Lot 82

August Sander

Herdorf 1876 - 1964 Cologne

Köln - Rheinufer mit Dom und St. Martin (Cologne, Rhine with Cathedral and St.



Vintage, Gelatinesilberabzug. 15.9 x 23.1 cm.


Nachlass Ingeborg Margaret Steckmann, geb. Boos


August Sander Archiv, Kölnisches Stadtmuseum/Kulturstiftung Stadtsparkasse Köln (Hg.), August Sander. Köln wie es war, Köln 1995,

S. 289 mit Abb. (hier kleinerer Ausschnitt)

Vintage gelatin silver print. 15.9 x 23.1 cm. Photographer's blind stamp lower left. Photographer's stamp and inscribed in ink in an unknown hand 'Köln, Rheinfront' on the verso as well as paper label, thereon typed information about the image and photographer, affixed along upper edge of the verso.

Provenance: Estate of Ingeborg Margaret Steckmann, née Boos

"Köln wie es war", portfolio 15

Literature: Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, August Sander Archiv/Kulturstiftung Stadtsparkasse Köln (ed.), August Sander. Köln wie es war, Cologne 1995, ill. p. 289; Kölnisches Stadtmuseum (ed.), August Sander. Köln wie es war, Cologne 2013, ill. p. 398

August Sander, who was born in the Westerwald region of Germany, spent nearly four decades, from the 1910s to the 1940s, photographing his adopted home town of Cologne. It seems that he developed the idea for a systematic arrangement of these photos quite early, at the end of the 1930s, wanting to place them in a wider, more structured context which would add up to a comprehensive profile of the city - something which he had previously done with two other portfolios, his “People of the 20th Century” and his Rhine landscapes. His wife Anna commented in 1939: “[…] He's been photographing all the beautiful old buildings, churches, houses, squares, everything along the road [i.e. the Alte Römerstrasse] and is now compiling them according to his plan. After all, any piece of work needs to be based on a fundamental idea.” However, August Sander had to wait until the end of World War II before he could continue this project. Between 1946 and 1952 he compiled 16 folders, containing a total of 407 photographs. His working title was “The City of Cologne as It once Was According to the Roman Plan”. His choice of the past tense shows that he had initially thought of the origins of Cologne in antiquity as the starting point for his stocktaking project. Yet in view of the piles of rubble left by the war, it acquired a further dimension. Not much was left of the religious and secular buildings, roads and squares in the city centre, which Sander had previously documented. Eventually, however, he opted for the words: “Cologne as It once Was - Images of the City before Its Destruction”. This was the full title on the cover page of the portfolio purchased by the City of Cologne in 1953. The historical and cultural importance of these photos had already been recognised by L. Fritz Gruber when he showed a selection of Sander's photos at the Photokina exhibition in 1951.

Of the 19 Cologne views which are now being auctioned, August Sander had selected 15 to be part of his collection “Cologne as It once Was”. They came from Ingeborg Margaret Boos's estate (later Steckmann) who had worked as the photographer's assistant from 1948 and who had also featured in portraits during that time (see illustration). Unlike the copies in the folders, which were partly only created after the war, these vintage photos are of a smaller format. All photographs bear an engraved stamp in the lower left-hand corner: “August Sander Köln Lindenthal”, while some also have a paper label, showing that they were intended for publication. The following descriptions also specify the folders to which each item had been assigned.

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