Anne Fischer

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Anne Fisher was born in 1915 in Berlin and orphaned at 16. After training as a photographer’s apprentice in a portrait studio in Germany, she fled that country shortly before World War II and arrived in Cape Town in 1937 as a penniless Jewish refugee. There she established a reputation as a fine portrait photographer and a master of lighting and ran a flourishing commercial business. By the 1960s she was regarded as Cape Town’s pre-eminent wedding photographer. Several other prominent women photographers of the time, including Jansje Wissema, trained in her studio.

Anne Fisher was not only a successful commercial photographer: she also produced a body of documentary work, mainly in the rural areas of the former Transkei and Basutoland, where she photographed many African women. She also photographed the poor, ‘coloured’ mission village of Genadendal in the Western Cape. Though documentary in style, this body of work is without the overt political agendas of some of her contemporaries and is closer in style to her commercial roots in portraiture, though Fisher’s subjects in these documentary photographs are a far cry from the well-heeled clients of her Cape Town studio.


Elderly Xhosa man dressed in a large cloak, Transkei, South Africa
Elderly Xhosa woman carrying a baby, Transkei, South Africa
Elderly farm worker, Genadendal, South Africa
Elderly man smoking his pipe, Genadendal, South Africa
Elderly woman carrying a sack, Genadendal, South Africa
Elderly woman in her home, Genadendal, South Africa
Elderly woman sitting on a bench, Genadendal, South Africa
Elderly woman's hands crossed on her lap
Farm labourer working on the land, Genadendal, South Africa
Herdeding cows, Transkei, South Africa
Man carrying a trunk along a road, Transkei, South Africa
Man sitting on the ground, Genadendal, South Africa
Man standing in a yard, Genadendal, South Africa
Man standing in an underground potato storage, Genadendal, South Africa
Man taking a studio portrait of a woman and her son, Genadendal, South Africa
Men waiting, Genadendal, South Africa
Mother and baby sitting on a bed, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a Xhosa man smiling, Transkei, South Africa
Portrait of a farm labourer, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a farm worker standing outside a thatched building, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a man, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a man, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a man, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a woman wearing an apron, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a young boy in formal dress, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a young boy, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a young child, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a young girl, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of a young girl, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of an elderly man, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of an elderly woman, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of an elderly woman, Genadendal, South Africa
Portrait of an elderly woman, Genadendal, South Africa
Two Xhosa men and a boy wrapped in blankets, Transkei, South Africa
Two men walking with backpacks, Genadendal, South Africa
Two young girls standing in a doorway, Genadendal, South Africa
Woman doing traditional dance, Transkei, South Africa
Woman with her children, Genadendal, South Africa
Xhosa elder posing for a portrait, Transkei, South Africa
Xhosa man beating a drum, Transkei, South Africa

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