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Hands of the Prayer (Hands of the Apostle)

Drawings and illustrations, 1508, 29.1×19.7 cm

Description of the artwork «Hands of the Prayer (Hands of the Apostle)»

“Hands of a Prayer” is one of the most famous drawings of all time.
The head curator of Vienna's Albertina, Christoph Metzger, says that he is second only to popularity"Vitruvian Man" (c. 1490) Leonardo da Vinci.

After more than five centuries of reproduction, Dürer’s works still adorn the homes of millions of people - as religious icons. At the same time, Albrecht Durer himself painted a famous work for advertising, claims Metzger. And this is a finished work, not a preparatory drawing, and on it are the hands of the artist himself.

Since the 19th century, it was believed that the hands were a preliminary study for the figure of the apostle in the lower right corner of the central panelGeller’s altar (completed in 1509). It is named after the Frankfurt merchant who ordered it.
The original board was destroyed by fire in 1729, but a good copy was preserved, made by Jobst Harrick and now located in the Historical Museum in Frankfurt.
Metzger argues that scientists are mistaken: why did Dürer make a separate, detailed drawing just to reduce it to a tiny detail on a painted altar? “The work is a miracle of observation, and it is too ambitious to be just a preliminary sketch,” he says. “Dürer made this“ master-drawing ”to show the visitors of his workshop an example of talent gifted by God.”
According to Metzger, “Hands of a Prayer” and several other drawings were created “for advertising” and were shown to potential customers so that they understood what quality the orders can be fulfilled by the artist.

The curator of Albertina also believes that the hands of Dürer himself are depicted in the figure. “Very thin fingers and palms are similar to those that we see onself-portrait of the year 1500 from the Munich Pinakothek. In the picture of the little finger of the partially hidden hand on the left, it seems that the joints are bent or tightened, as shown in other self-portraits, such as the 1498 drawing from the Metropolitan Museum, ”said Christoph Metzger.

Vlad Maslov (Arthive), based on The Art Newspaper

PS On the Internet, a completely fictional sentimental story is circulating that, say, Dürer depicted the hands of his brother. Read the material by Oksana Sanzharova in Arthive:Art fake with exposure. Hands of "Brother Durer", quarries and poor family

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About the artwork

Art form: Drawings and illustrations

Subject and objects: Religious scene

Style of art: Renaissance, Northern Renaissance

Technique: Ink

Materials: Paper

Date of creation: 1508

Size: 29.1×19.7 cm

Artwork in selections: 36 selections

Exhibitions history