Bill BRANDT, Ascot Races Enlarge 1 /1


Germany 1904 – Great Britain 1983

  • France 1929, England from 1931

Ascot Races [An Ascot Grandstand or Epsom Derby] 1934 Title Notes: image appears in Brandt's The English at Home p. 28.
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: image 23.2 h x 19.7 w cm sheet 25.5 h x 20.2 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1985
Accession No: NGA 85.1954

Brandt was born into a wealthy family of merchant bankers in Hamburg. In his late teenage years he contracted tuberculosis and spent time in sanatoriums in Switzerland. He studied photography in Vienna and Paris (where he served a brief apprenticeship with Man Ray) and he brought a surrealist eye and a distinctly tough though poetic stylistic language to his work. His father was born in London and it was there that Brandt settled permanently in the thirties. He set about recording the social customs and class structure of his new homeland, publishing many of the images in The English at home in 1936. Being an insider and an outsider he was able to build a unique and unusually sympathetic picture of rich and poor alike at work and play. Unusually for the time his approach was neither sentimental nor patronising. He later remarked that he found ‘the extreme social contrast, during those years before the war, visually, very inspiring’.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra