praying hand

The Praying Hands is a familiar symbol all over the world, but few realise the history of this image. It stems from a tiny village near Nuremberg, where the Durer family of eighteen children lived. The father, a goldsmith by trade, worked long hours just to put food on the table, and clothe them.

Two of the older boys, had a talent for art, but understood that their father could not afford to send them to study the subject. After much discussion, the brothers tossed a coin “ the winner would go to the Art Academy in Nuremburg, and the other would work down the mines, and support his brother for four years. Once the first lad had completed his studies, the second boy would go to the Academy, supported by his brother selling works of art, and going down the mines if necessary.

Albrecht won the toss and went off to Nuremberg, and the other brother, Albert headed for the mines, to finance his brother. Albrecht's etchings and wood carvings, and oil paintings were a great success, and be began to receive commissions, earning some decent money.

Following graduation, he returned to his family who celebrated with a big feast, and he thanked his brother Albert for enabling him to fulfill his ambition.

It was now Albert's turn to study art, but he broke down, sobbing, saying:

'No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg.
It is too late for me. Look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately, I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. My brother, for me, it is too late.'

Some years later Albrecht Durer paid homage to his unfortunate brother. He drew those abused hands with palms together, calling it simply 'Hands'.

Many years later, the drawing became known as 'The Praying Hands'.



May 19, 2023 - 9:32pm

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