Emmy Andriesse took this photograph in 1944 – 1945, during the Dutch famine (‘Hunger winter’) in Amsterdam. Cold and hunger resulted in high mortality in the final year of the Second World War. Burials became something of a production line and took place with little ceremony. The almost frontal, highly symmetrical structure of the image is typical of Andriesse’s approach. She worked with a Rolleicord, a 6 x 6 single-lens reflex camera which required careful composition. The contrast between the formally attired, gaunt man and the shabby carrier cycle is poignant, yet the photographic depiction is entirely unsentimental. All of Andriesse’s work, which consists largely of photographs of people, demonstrates a warm and humane attitude, which at the same time is extremely precise and conscious of form.
© Joost Elffers/Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Translated title

A Grave-Digger at Oosterbegraafplaats, Amsterdam



Production date



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30.4 x 24cm.


gelatin silver print

Object number

FA 3256


schenking Uitgeverij Bert Bakker / Gift of Bert Bakker Press

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