For over 50 years Sander photographed individuals and groups of people in his native Germany, classifying them according to their occupations and positions in society. This lifelong attempt to document the German people resulted in the ambitious project entitled ‘People of the 20th Century’. This is a photograph of Helene Abelen, the wife of the painter and architect, Peter Abelen. It is included in the portfolio entitled ‘The Elegant Woman’ in the project’s third group, ‘The Woman’. Abelen’s strong bohemian character is suggested by her pose and costume: holding a cigarette between clenched teeth, she looks directly at the camera while her hands are occupied in striking a match. Her left foot raised, she appears to walk towards the camera, shining out against the background in her masculine white shirt and tie and baggy trousers.