Dorothea Lange’s portrait of a farm labourer and her children was taken as part of her work for the Resettlement Administration, and was taken in 1936. The RA was a federal government agency that relocated farmers to more productive land as a means of support during the Great Depression. The photographs were commissioned to document and highlight the hardship that American farm workers were enduring. Lange described the woman at the centre of this shot as a ‘hungry and desperate mother’. She holds a baby in her arms, and is flanked by two young children.
Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California
FSC Certified paper and wood
Original: Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper 35.5 x 28 cm Tate. Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax from the Estate of Barbara Lloyd and allocated to Tate 2009
Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965) was an American documentary photographer and photojournalist. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey and raised in New York, Lange was interested in observation and photography from a young age. She studied photography at Columbia University and had apprenticeships at multiple New York studios, and eventually established her own photography studio. When the Great Depression began, Lange turned to photojournalism, documenting the mass unemployment, homelessness, and hardships that were rife. She also co-founded Aperture, the photography magazine, and was the first female photographer to have been the subject of a solo retrospective at MoMA, New York.