13 Hand Details & the Paintings they belong to

 


March 7th, 2017  by M. Elise Hillestad

 

well painted hand can convey a depth of emotion, character, and intention only comparable perhaps to  the eyes of a figure. In the musculature of a hand, it’s flush, the lines of its fingers, the wrinkles and creases, a viewer reads comfort or struggle. The smooth patrician hand of a blue-blood portrait conveys leisure and privilege. The soiled, working-class hand of a laborer is an illustration in toil, the elements of nature, and the land worked lovingly. The hands of a painted mother, gently caressing her child, expresses a tangible tenderness and familiarity. 

A skillfully formed hand on canvas is a great feat. Arguably, no part of the human figure is more difficult to convey believably. But when it is achieved, it reaches out to the humanity within us, like Michelangelo’s God figure, hand outstretched to Adam. A hand, divine and willful, sparking life out of the void.

 

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Jan van Eyck, Portrait of a man with a pink carnation, ca 1430

 


 

 

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John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Adrian Iselin, 1888

 


 

 

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Sandro Botticelli, Madonna of the Pomegranate, 1487

 


 

 

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Diego Velázquez, Old Woman cooking eggs, 1618

 


 

 

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Władysław Czachórski, Lady in a lilac dress, 1903

 


 

 

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Peter Paul Rubens, Portrait of a young man, 1613

 


 

 

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Rembrandt, The Prophetess Anna (Rembrandt’s mother) 1631

 


 

 

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Rogier van der Weyden, Philippe de Croy, ca. 1460

 


 

 

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William Adolphe Bouguereau, The Story Book, 1877

 


 

 

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Caravaggio, The Lute Player, c. 1596

 


 

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Jusepe de Ribera, Euclid, 1630-35

 


 

 

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Rembrandt, Portrait of a lady with an ostrich feather fan, c.1660

 


 

 

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Alma Tadema, Roses of Heliogabalus, 1888

 



 

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