August Sander’s contemporary Alfred Döblin described his monumental project ‘People of the 20th Century’ as a work of social and cultural history told through the medium of photography. Adopting a methodological approach, Sander divided over five hundred photographs into seven groups intended to represent the social classes and types of modern German society. This portrait of the German-American composer and conductor Hermann Hans Wetzler (1870–1943) is classified in the portfolio ‘The Composer’, from the fifth group entitled ‘The Artists’. Wetzler lived in Cologne during 1923–9; Sandler took the photograph during the early years of his stay. The clear lines of Wetzler’s clothes and facial features and the detailed texture of his skin, hair and garments are characteristic of Sander’s documentary approach to photography. Appearing neutrally analytical rather than narrative or expressive, Sander’s portraits neither idealise nor denigrate their subjects, presenting them as objectively as possible.