Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1940
Image: 24.5 x 19.5 cm (9 5/8 x 7 11/16 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)
© The Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California, City of Oakland. Gift of Paul S. Taylor
Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1989.62
A great deal is known about 27-year-old Allie Mae Burroughs, whose portrait is one of the most iconic images of the Depression. Featured in James Agee and Walker Evans’s book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (on view in this exhibition) under the pseudonym Mrs. Gudger, she was a poor sharecropper’s wife and mother of four. The only thing known about Lange’s subject is the name of her town. These two women in their twenties, faces lined with care, were photographed mug-shot style, head-on against weathered wood walls. Despite facing great adversity, both demonstrate determination and fortitude, and perhaps a hint of defiance at being offered up as specimens of rural and small town suffering during the Depression.
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