Facies Dolorosa: Das schmerzensreiche Antlitz (Faces of the Realm of Pain).
... My own personal favourite of what might be termed accidental photographic books is Facies Dolorosa by Dr Hans Killian, an ostensibly medical book from 1934 concerning the nature of pain and suffering as it manifested itself on the human face. The subjects are pictured lying prone in bed, shot close-up in black and white, though not with the kind of detached precision that usually attends scientific inquiry. Killian was obviously involved intimately with his subjects and their conditions, and he photographs them with a sympathy that is both moving and oddly beautiful. It is, says Parr, 'perhaps the most melancholy photographic book of all' ... See also Photobooks on Care environments and Matters of Life and Death in post-war Holland: THEN and NOW by Mirelle Thijsen
See for a review & discussion with Martin Parr ...
Thank you for your letter and for throwing some light on the subject of Dr Killian. As neither Gerry Badger or myself read much German we were unable to find anything much out about him, except the fact of the Hans Killian Prize. However we were including his book on the strength of the photographs and I think we would do the same even knowing what we now know. If you look closely at the text you can see that we were slightly uneasy about them as we have already criticised the 19th century tradition of physiognomic comparison, and it does not surprise that he may have been Nazi as their medical experiments derived from this tradition. If we are revising the book, we will certainly mention this fact, but one interesting puzzle remains. Why is there still a well respected prize in his honour if his name is somewhat tarnished?
Best wishes Martin Parr