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In Praise of Hands

In Praise of Hands

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In Praise of Hands

180 Seiten
41 Minuten
Mar 8, 2018


To speak about art is to evoke the hand of the creator who produced the work. It is to confer to its gestures the importance of thoughts and to explore their point of convergence on the canvas or the stone. With this text, Henri Focillon delivers one of the most beautiful odes to the hand and, simultaneously, to the talent of artists, studying Hokusai, Cézanne, and even Rodin. What do artists such as Rembrandt, David, Gauguin, and Hokusai have in common? A virtuosity of the hand, replies Henri Focillon. The viewer often forgets that behind the works, it is first and foremost a hand and its fingers which guide the paintbrush, the pen, or the stylus. Focillon’s text recalls the importance of this part of the body, in which the artist’s talent comes to life. Within his text, he grants the hand the recognition that it deserves.
Mar 8, 2018

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In Praise of Hands - Henri Focilon


Henri Focilon

Victoria Charles


Baseline Co. Ltd

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

© Parkstone Press International, New York, USA

© Confidential Concepts, worldwide, USA

© Image-Bar

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or adapted without the permission of the copyright holder, throughout the world. Unless otherwise specified, copyrights on the works reproduced lies with the respective photographers. Despite intensive research, it has not always been possible to establish copyright ownership. Where this is the case we would appreciate notification.

ISBN: 978-1-68325-458-4

Henri Focilon – Victoria Charles

In Praise



These hands have their character and souls,

They are a world in movement, so it seems;

The thumb and little finger are the poles

Between which flow the strange magnetic streams.

— Paul Verlaine


List of Artists

List of Illustrations


The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, 1632

The Ancient of Days, 1794

Aphrodite, known as Venus of Arles, end of 1st century BCE

Apollo and Daphne, probably 1470-1480

Arm Reliquary of St Lawrence, c. 1175

Arm Reliquary of St Luke of Toulouse, c. 1337-1338

The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434

Ashes, 1894

Autumn, 1864


Banquet Scene: Man Reclining on a Bench and Youth Playing the Aulos, c. 460 BCE

The Baptism of Christ, c. 520

The Bather, 1885

Baths and Dressing No. 10, 18th century

The Beethoven Frieze (left panel), 1901-1902

The Beloved (The Bride), 1865-1866

The Birth of Venus, c. 1484

The Bolt, 1777

A Boy Blowing on an Ember to Light a Candle, 1570-1572


The Cardsharps, c. 1595

The Chess Players, c. 1562

Christ Supported by Two Angels, vers 1490

Confetti, 1894

The Cosmic Buddha Vairocana, Tibet, 14th century

The Creation of Adam (Sixth Ceiling Panel), 1508-1512

A Crowd of Hands, c. 9000-7000 BCE


Day, 1899

The Dead Bird, 1800

The Death of Socrates, 1787

Deposition from the Cross, c. 1600-1604

Discobolus the Discus Thrower, c. 450 BCE

E / F

Erasmus, c. 1523

Fighting for a Woman, 1905

The First Mourning, 1888

The Five Painters: Bonnard, Vuillard, Roussel, Cottet, and Vallotton, 1902-1903


Greek Painting Depicting a Couple, 480 BCE

Group of Four Naked and Seated Women, between 1895 and 1910


The Hand, c. 1885

The Hands of St John in The Last Supper, c. 1495

Hearst’s International, Cover for January 1922, 1921

Homoerotic drawing, before 1924

I / J

In the Conservatory, 1878-1879

Infant Buddha, China, Ming Dynasty, 17th century

Jesus Among the Doctors, 1506

Jupiter and Callisto, 1613

K / L

The Kiss, 1859

La Fornarina, c. 1520

Laocoön and His Sons, c. 150 BCE

Large Clenched Left Hand, c. 1885

Large Hand of a Pianist, 1885

Leo VI Prostrate Before Christ in Majesty, 9th-10th century

The Lord Answering Job out of the Whirlwind, 1805-1810


Madonna of Loreto, 1509-1510

Man with a Glove, c. 1520

Mona Lisa (La Gioconda), c. 1503-1506

The Morning Bath, 1879-1883

N / O

Necklace, forepart, after 1838

Ostra edition, No. B301, c. 1935

Nude (Self-Portrait), 1910

Olympia, 1863

Ophelia, 1851-1852

The Order of Release 1746, 1852-1853


Pan Teaching Daphnis to Play the Flute, 1st century BCE

Parau na te Varua ino (Words of the Devil), 1892

Pendant Representing a (Male) Hand Clutching a Phallus

Penitent Magdalene, 1533

A Philosopher Reading, c. 1764

Plague, 1794

The Pointing Hand of the Angel in The Virgin of the Rocks, c. 1517-1520

Portrait of Arthur Roessler, 1910

Primavera, c. 1482

Praying Hands (detail from Heller Altar), 1508

Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, 1787-1793


The Raising of Lazarus, c. 1630-1632

Reclining Woman with Green Stockings, 1917

The Red Limb’d Angel, 1794

Rienzi Vowing to Obtain Justice for the Death of His Young Brother, Slain in a Skirmish Between the Colonna and the Orsini, 1849

Rubens and Isabella Brant in the Honeysuckle Bower, c. 1609


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