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Hands

Hands

Hands. “With your hands, you peel onions ...” this is the famed first line in a popular Italian song by Zucchero. We do so many things with our hands…We only realize how much when even a little accident stops us from using them.

All you need is one bandaged hand to realize how much a finger, any finger, can do and how miraculous it is how they work.

So, today, we’ll pay tribute to hands and their importance. We’ll look at them in their most unexpected gestures, from the noble hands to humblest.

What is, indeed, more terrible than a betrayal?  (photo no 1) The subject is easy to understand as the fish has long been a symbol of Christ.

Hands_the_fis_ has_long been_a_symbol_of_Christ
Hands. The fish has long been a symbol of Christ

And what could be chicer than a raised pinkie?  (photo no 2) James Tissot, a late 19th-century French painter transplanted to London, irresistibly depicts the bourgeoisie, with its rituals, aspirations, and obsessions.

What could be chicer than a raised pinkie? by James Tissot
Hands. Could be chicer than a raised pinkie? by James Tissot

But like all things copied rather than innate, there is always that touch of falseness, of pretense.

Since the origins of the bourgeoisie in Florence at the time of the Medici, it has always desperately sought to stand in the shoes of the nobility it was pushing out, borrowing its lifestyles, fashions, gestures, and so on.

Francesco Trombadori, an artist of the 20th-century Roman School (photo no 3), shows us the grace of a hand covering the privates.

 Francesco Trombadori, an artist of the 20th-century Roman School
Hands. Francesco Trombadori, an artist of the 20th-century Roman School

Two beautiful hands that are sewing (photo no 4) in the work of Angelo Caroselli (Rome 1585–1652) become an allegory of Vanitas.

Allegory of Vanitas by Angelo Caroselli (Rome 1585–1652)
Hands. Allegory Vanitas by Angelo Caroselli (Rome 1585–1652)

And wouldn’t it be lovely to hear the music played by the hand portrayed in the painting attributed to the baroque painter Théodore Van Thulden (photo no 5).

Théodore Van Thulden
Hands. Théodore Van Thulden  (‘s-Hertogenbosch, 1606 – 1669) 

We know little about these gesticulating white-gloved hands (photo no 6) but we can guess much. The costumes suggest a discussion between a nobleman and a high prelate. We imagine a great deal was at stake, perhaps even the age-old battle a balance between State and Church.

 gesticulating white-gloved hands
Hands. Gesticulating white-gloved hands

We do know the story of Theseus, Arianna and her thread (photo no 7), depicted in a painting by an artist about whom we know only his ‘name piece’: the Master of the Cassoni Campana. We know that he was active in Florence in the 16th century but do not know his identity. 

The story of Theseus, Arianna and her thread by the Master of the Cassoni Campana
Hands. The story of Theseus, Arianna and her thread by the Master of the Cassoni Campana

Of course, we couldn’t forget one of Pablo Picasso’s classic big hand (photo no 8), which reminds us of the myriad ways of observing and representing the world.

Pablo Picasso's classic big hand
Hands. Pablo Picasso’s classic big hand

Let’s finish up with photo no 9, a piece by Pietro da Rimini (1324–1338).

The task of these hands may be the most sorrowful of all. Only the peerless grace of Italian Primitives can let us consider such a trial: taking Jesus’s lifeless body down from the cross.

Pietro da Rimini (1324–1338)
Hands. Pietro da Rimini (1324–1338)