Dorothea Lange - Passion & Humanity: The Susie Tompkins Buell Collection New York Thursday, April 4, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    From the photographer to Phillip Greene, 1957
    Page Imageworks, San Francisco, as agent, 1990

  • Exhibited

    The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-2000, Whitney Museum of American Art, 23 April - 22 August 1999
    Collected, Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco, 2 May 2016 - 31 January 2017

  • Literature

    Pier 24 Photography, Collected, pp. 109 and 110 (this print)
    Whitney Museum of American Art, The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-2000, p. 249 (this print)
    Szarkowski, Phillips, and Heyman, Dorothea Lange: American Photographs, pl. 1
    The Museum of Modern Art, Dorothea Lange, p. 20
    Davis, The Photographs of Dorothea Lange, cover and p. 21
    Keller, In Focus: Dorothea Lange, Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum, pl. 4
    Meltzer, Dorothea Lange: A Photographer’s Life, p. 117
    NBC Editions, Dorothea Lange: The Human Face, p. 45
    Borhan, Dorothea Lange: Heart and Mind of a Photographer, p. 71
    Aperture, Dorothea Lange: Photographs of a Lifetime, p. 45
    Partridge, Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange, p. 41
    Partridge, Dorothea Lange: A Visual Life, pl. 6.13

  • Catalogue Essay

    White Angel Breadline, one of Dorothea Lange’s most compelling images, has become a definitive representation of the human toll taken by the Depression. This photograph pre-dates her work for the Resettlement Administration (later the Farm Security Administration), and set the template for the humanistic approach she continued to pursue throughout her career.

    In 1933, Lange operated her own portrait studio in San Francisco and catered to an affluent clientele. As she recounted many times, however, she could not ignore the growing number of newly unemployed people in the city, and she took to the street, camera in hand, to explore the situation. One early outing brought her to a breadline operated by a wealthy woman known as the White Angel, who dispensed food to those in need. Lange exposed three negatives there, with her 3 ¼-by-4 ½ Graflex camera, each taken from a slightly different vantage point.

    The print offered here is one of the few prints of White Angel Breadline to be personally inscribed by Lange to one of her colleagues in the field. Lange gave this print to the young photographer and filmmaker Phillip Greene, who had assisted her in the darkroom at one time and was the cameraman for the Lange documentary produced by San Francisco’s public television station KQED. In addition to the inscription by Lange on the reverse of the photograph’s mount is a contact print of another image taken with her Graflex at the breadline on that day.


White Angel Breadline

Gelatin silver print, printed no later than 1957.
13 1/4 x 10 1/4 in. (33.7 x 26 cm)
Signed, titled and inscribed ‘For Phil Greene – from Dorothea Lange, May 1957, the White Angel Breadline, San Francisco, 1932 [sic]’ in ink on a label and a contact print of another image from the series affixed to the reverse of the flush-mount.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $200,000

Contact Specialist
Caroline Deck
Senior Specialist, Head of Sale

Chris Mahoney
Senior International Specialist

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairman, Americas

General Enquiries
+1 212 940 1245

Passion & Humanity: The Susie Tompkins Buell Collection

New York Auction 4 April 2019