Bill Brandt

British (Hamburg, Germany, 1904 - 1983, London, England)

Parlourmaid and under-parlourmaid ready to serve dinner

photograph | gelatin silver print
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    Bill Brandt, Parlourmaid and under-parlourmaid ready to serve dinner, 1932; gelatin silver print, 15 1/8 in. x 13 11/16 in. (38.42 cm x 34.77 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Louise Dahl Wolfe in memory of Elizabeth Dahl; © Estate of Bill Brandt

Following Brandt's arrival in London in his late twenties, the German-born photographer worked as a photojournalist with the Black Star Agency. His explorations of World War II-era British society compare the lives, customs, and social divisions of the rich and poor (in 1936 he published examples of this work in The English at Home).

Here, Brandt activates the composition by positioning the camera as if it were someone sitting at the immaculately dressed table. The view looks upward at two domestic workers, their uniforms as pressed as the table linens. Brandt's use of light and dark areas weaves these women into their surroundings; however, their uncomfortable stances suggest their difference as well.

Brandt's photographs were not strictly documentary: he often staged scenes with actors and did not to retouch his pictures.

15 1/8 in. x 13 11/16 in. (38.42 cm x 34.77 cm)
Acquired 1979
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of Louise Dahl Wolfe in memory of Elizabeth Dahl
© Estate of Bill Brandt


servants, upper class, interiors, dining rooms, place settings, centerpieces, tables, decanters, wineglasses, aprons, London, women, uniforms, pinafores, mob caps

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