August Sander’s monumental project ‘People of the 20th Century’ concludes with a group of photographs that he titled ‘The Last People’. While many of this ambitious project’s more than 500 photographs are dedicated to documenting the professional working and middle classes, ‘The Last People’ depicts those figures who move on the margins of society: the sick, the disabled, the old and the insane. Two portraits included in the group bear the chilling title ‘Matter’. They show two recently deceased people on their deathbeds – here an elderly woman whose face is shown in profile. These pictures testify to Sander’s reflections on the cycle of life and death and the relationship between man and nature. The white garments and bed linens framing the old woman’s face and evoking peace and spiritual purity are thrown into strong relief by the contrasting black background that suggests the infinity of a night without end.