August Sander’s social documentary photography was intimately intertwined with the physiognomic discourse that developed at the beginning of the twentieth century. His photo-books present large numbers of photographs of individuals and groups of people not as single images but as series from which it was hoped that the unifying physical characteristics of a particular social class or professional type would emerge. This photograph is from a series of hand studies that Sander compiled in 1944, when he was living in the rural Westerwald after relocating from Cologne during the war. All the studies are enlargements of details from portraits taken in the 1920s and 1930s, when Sander still had his studio in the Cologne district of Lindenthal. They show the hands of representatives of professional classes, ranging from manual labourers to businessmen and artists. Sander frequently added photographic reproductions of the subject’s handwriting to the studies.