May 16, 2024 - Sale 2669

Sale 2669 - Lot 38

Price Realized: $ 112,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 100,000 - $ 150,000
DOROTHEA LANGE (1895-1965)
Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age 32). Silver print, the image measuring 9⅜x7¼ inches (23.8x18.4 cm.), the sheet 10x8 inches (25.4x20.3 cm.), with Lange's F.S.A. credit stamp, a Farm Security Administration stamp, the typed title and date, and the RA number in pencil, on verso. March 1936

Provenance: A Private Collection of an Artist, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore

Dorothea Lange believed strongly in the camera's ability to effect change and powerfully illustrate injustice and inequalities. Her images are both deeply empathetic and outraged, and her methods--open, instinctual, responsive, and intimate--created some of the most enduring and iconic images from the period. "Open yourself as wide as you can, like a piece of unexposed, sensitized material," she wrote.

Migrant Mother's creation and subsequent transformation to cultural icon is well documented. Lange made this image, along with six other frames, of the same woman, Florence Owens Thompson, in 1936. Taken in early March, by the 11th of that month it had been reproduced to thousands of newspaper readers for the first time (in the San Francisco News accompanying an editorial titled "What Does the ‘New Deal' Mean to This Mother and Her Children?"). Since then, its power and visual impact has only grown and multiplied, becoming one of the most recognizable and reproduced images in the world. It has not lost its ability to move and connect, a testament to Lange's enduring empathy and abilities as a photographer.