In his monumental photographic project ‘People of the 20th Century’ August Sander aimed to chronicle the social structures and employment divisions of his time. He divided his collection of more than 500 photographs into seven groups: ‘The Farmer’, ‘The Skilled Tradesman’, ‘The Woman’, ‘Classes and Professions’, ‘The Artists’, ‘The City’ and ‘The Last People’. This portrait is from the portfolio entitled ‘Servants’ within the sixth group, ‘The City’. Most the photographs from this portfolio were taken in Sander’s studio in the Cologne district of Lindenthal, and usually portray their subjects in their working clothes. The cleaning lady depicted in this picture holds her broomstick before her like a protective weapon. Although her face and neck are lined by age and perhaps exhaustion, her arms appear strong and youthful from years of labour indoors. The woman’s upright posture and direct gaze express a sense of confidence. The picture shares its composition with the photographs that Sander took of representatives of such higher-ranking professions as lawyers and businessmen.