August Sander's ambitious portrait series, "Citizens of the Twentieth Century" ("Menschen de 20, Jahrhunderts"), comprises more than five hundred photographs. Intended as a physiognomic profile of the German people, the series included a range of sociological subjects, from peasants to statesmen. Sander believed the human physiognomy offered evidence of one's profession and psychological state.This portrait of painter and architect Peter Abelen's wife, Helene, is from the series. According to Gerhard Sander, the photographer's grandson, the painter liked his wife to wear unusual costumes such as the one she wears here. The portrait also illustrates how perceptions of women's independence were shifting in Germany in the 1920s.