From the mid-1920s until the end of his life August Sander photographed individuals and groups of people in his native Germany, classifying them according to their social status and professional occupation. The images that make up his monumental documentary project entitled ‘People of the 20th Century’ reflect Sander’s concern with the question of how art could communicate the social and political realities of modern society, including the problems of poverty and social inequality. This portrait of a beggar is from the portfolio entitled ‘Types and Figures of the City’, which depicts people on the fringes of society, within the project’s sixth group, ‘The City’. While addressing a politically-charged issue, the photograph also illustrates Sander’s supreme skill for composition. Placing his subject at the meeting point of vertical and horizontal lines, Sander has exploited the clear light on the beggar’s face to illuminate a spirit unbroken by a life of unimaginable hardship.