August Sander’s ambition to create a photographic documentation of all ‘types’ of German people resulted in the collection ‘The People of the 20th Century’. He divided his project into seven groups, the first of which he called ‘The Farmer’. This image is the final one to appear in the sub-group, ‘The Portfolio of Archetypes’. The seated portrait is a work of precise observation filled with naturalist detail, making use of a sparse background that consists of an armchair and wallpaper that does little to distract from the sitter. The palette of medium-grey tones frames the woman’s serene face and resting hands. The sitter is clothed in a carefully ironed linen dress and lace bonnet. The book in her lap emphasises the intellectual involvement alluded to by the title.