Violette Cornelius is one of the most important Dutch woman photographers. She emigrated to the Netherlands with her parents in 1938. She studied photography under Paul Guermonprez at the Amsterdam Nieuwe Kunstschool (New Arts School) that had been founded in 1933 on the basis of the German Bauhaus.
Soon after the German invasion, she got involved in an artists’ resistance group, the clandestine magazine De Vrije Kunstenaar (The Free Artist) and later on the Persoonsbewijzen Centrale. The negatives of the photographs taken during that period were buried outside Amsterdam and were returned by an unknown person after the Liberation.
After the war, Violette Cornelius became a prominent architectural photographer. In the end, however, she opted for reportage photography. She took photographs for company publications and eventually concentrated on documenting migration to urban areas in developing countries in Africa and elsewhere (Iraq, India and Peru). This was one of the reasons why she was unjustly forgotten in the Netherlands.