August Sander, Peasants (1914)
I stood in the National Gallery in London for a long time looking at this picture. There is something so elegant and dignified about their faces, full of hope; on the way to the dance and wearing their best suits. I thought of William Trevor's wonderful short story, The Ballroom of Romance, about rural Ireland in the 1950s: hopeful, lonely people making their way to the nearest ballroom, some walking or cycling for miles for the promise of love.
There's an interesting article here by John Berger about this photograph, and others in the Sander catalogue: his project, cut short by the war, was to capture "Citizens of the Twentieth Century".