Signed in ink, Sygma' agency stamps and title, date, and annotation typed on the reverse.
From the Catalogue:
In 1933, the United States was in the depths of the Great Depression and Dorothea Lange was working as a portrait photographer in San Francisco. A breadline sponsored by a wealthy community widow (“The White Angel”) was not far from her studio, and Lange was inspired to take a series of candid street photographs. ‘I made [White Angel Breadline] on the first day I ever went in an area where people said, "Oh, don't go there,"’ she related to an interviewer. 'It was on the first day that I ever made a photograph actually on the street' (quoted in Photographs of a Lifetime, p. 44). White Angel Breadline became one of the photographer’s most well-known and widely reproduced images, depicting the isolation and helplessness of the masses of American citizens living in poverty.
White Angel Breadline has been variously cropped by countless picture editors of the magazines and books in which it has appeared. It exemplifies how cropping decisions affect viewer interpretation. Some versions of this image show the unaltered, full-frame format, inclusive of most of a sign at the upper right corner, buildings in the background, and a sea of men waiting in the breadline. In the most well-known version of the image, only a fraction of the sign remains in the frame, the buildings in the background are eliminated entirely, and, other than the man at the front, only one or two other men face forward. The photograph offered here presents the most focused cropping of this iconic image. Nearly all visual information in the background has been eliminated, commanding all attention on the figure who faces away from the crowd and towards Lange’s camera.
In 1935, only two years after Lange made this picture, the image was included in the photography annual U. S. Camera. The cropping chosen for the annual is remarkably similar to that of the present lot. In these tightly cropped versions of White Angel Breadline, our attention is even further honed on the central figure with his clasped hands and set jaw, emphasizing resilience, isolation, and dignity. 'I had to get my camera to register the things that were more important than how poor they were—their pride, their strength, their spirit' (quoted in Restless Spirit, p. 47).
—Courtesy of Sotheby's
Paris Match, 19 October 1979, no. 1586, pp. 116-7