They Honor Their Sons

Lisette Model (American, born Austria, 1901 - 83)

1940-42. Oil on canvas, 9 7/8 x 13". 2001.020.105

Lisette Model was a self-taught photographer who immigrated to the United States in 1938 from Vienna and Paris. She is known for her extensive body of photographs of the Lower East Side of New York, but she was drawn also to subjects related to World War II. They Honor Their Sons was made during a war rally, presumably of mothers whose sons were engaged in the war. Here, two women fill the frame and are seen slightly from below, in a style that is characteristic of Model’s portraits. The rigid post, just off-center, is included deliberately to underscore the restrained emotions apparent in the mothers’ expressions. Model was active in the Photo League through the 1940s and was an influential teacher whose students included Diane Arbus.

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