Praying Hands is a painting by Albrecht Dürer which has some interesting religious, occult, and even mathematical aspects. The two figures in the foreground of this painting are keeping their hands together in order to pray or show respect towards an unseen entity. It is believed that they are praying for peace but where did the inspiration come from?
The story behind this work starts with a young artist by the name of Albrecht Dürer who had just traveled to Venice during 1511-1512 in order to see works of great painters of his time. He was fascinated by these artists and saw it as an opportunity to improve his skills in fine arts. Later on, he moved back to his hometown known as Nuremberg where he created several drawings and paintings.
In this article, we will discuss the story behind the Praying Hands drawing.
Albrecht Dürer Biography
Albrecht Durer (1471–1528), German painter, printmaker, theorist, mathematician, and engraver. He is one of the most famous representatives of Northern Renaissance art, mainly for his prints. Born in 1471 in the Imperial city of Nuremberg, he died on April 12, 1528, in his native city as a revered master of the German Renaissance.
At the age of 14, Dürer became an apprentice to Hermann Püsche, a leading artist in Renaissance. After six years of intricate travels around the de Awepine region, he returned to Nuremberg, where he set up his own workshop. Dürer’s artistic activity almost coincides with the high classical period of the Renaissance.
Dürer created his works in flourishing cities of Swabia, Tirol, Bavaria, and Austria. He was fond of Swiss cities, too.
Albrecht Durer’s artwork is among the most fantastic compositions in Renaissance art, filled with mysticism and symbolism. Dürer’s imagination was influenced by philosophy, especially religion, astrology, and magic.
Dürer is one of de most studied Renaissance artists in Western art history. His paintings often represent many symbolic meanings which he wove from methodology originating in schools of Swabian mystics and landscape painters.
Albrecht Durer Praying Hands Story
Albrecht Durer, a German artist, and engraver created the ”Prying Hands” drawing in 1497. The drawing was completed using black contours on paper with watercolor. Currently, it is in possession of the Albertina Museum, Austria (the home of the Moscato Wine).
Albrecht Durer’s Praying Hands is dedicated to Albrecht’s brother Albert.
Both Albrecht and his brother Albert came from a modest family of eighteen children. Both boys aspired to be artists, but their parents were unable to pay for them to attend the academy (art school) as they wished. In reality, it was doubtful if they could even afford to send one of the young men to such a school.
The pair made a bargain one night. They would toss a coin, and the loser of the toss would have to work in the coal mines near their home in order to assist his brother during his studies.
They would switch places again four years later. The brother who went to school would be able to work and make money, allowing the other brother to study and pursue his goal of becoming an artist.
Fortunately, Albrecht won the coin toss and spent four years in the school learning and perfecting his trade. He proved to be a natural with a pencil, paintbrush, and penknife, exceeding even his teachers in artistic ability.
When it came time to enroll Albrecht’s younger brother in school, poor Albert couldn’t stop crying. He showed his brother his working hands, which had been destroyed during the previous four years as a result of hard labor.
His hands were rough, deformed, and arthritic because of his hard job in the coal mines. Every bone in his hands had been broken at least once by the filthy working conditions. His hands were harsh, misshapen, and aching. It was now impossible for him to execute delicate or precise work as an artist.
It’s been said that upon learning of his brother’s sacrifice, Albrecht asked Albert to pose for him in prayer. He then drew the famous ink and pencil sketch of the “Praying Hands” as a model for an altarpiece he was being paid to create for a client.
The simple drawing, which depicts brotherly love, sacrifice, and generosity in its heart, has been a favorite of Christians for centuries and is still seen on the walls of many Christian homes as a reminder of our obligation to pray.
It’s also a reminder that the greatest sacrifices are frequently the most inconspicuous—and the most gratifying to God. Albert spent four years sacrificing for his older brother, which had a significant spiritual impact: he gifted humanity with one of the finest artists who ever lived.
The Influence of Durer’s Praying Hands on Modern Culture
Although the image of Dürer’s Praying Hands is over 500 years old, it still appears in today’s modern culture in a variety of different forms. Some of the examples where the drawing of the Praying Hands has been used are:
1. People creating handprints as symbols of prayer and love
2. The placing of hands-on on top of one another as a symbol of prayer
3. The use of the image in tattoos on people’s bodies
4. Religious paintings with praying hands
5. Dürer’s Praying Hands being used to “give luck to cars”
In 2011, a student in Athens created a graffiti artwork on the side of a ten-story building in the city’s heart based on Dürer’s illustration. The hands are turned upside down on the structure compared to the original.
The cover for “6 God” on Drake’s album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is a copy of the original drawing.
All in All
Dürer’s Praying Hands is a testament to the impact of one person’s creativity. It has inspired generations of artists and continues to do so today. The painting will last as long as people continue to seek inspiration in it, which could be hundreds or even thousands of years from now. If you are interested in seeing this for yourself, visit the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria, where Albrecht Durer’s masterpiece can still be seen today!