“Hands” by Durer


Courtesy : Shyam, my IIM-B Classmate

In the 15th century, in a village near Nuremberg , there lived a goldsmith named Albrecht Durer, who had eighteen children. In order to keep food on the table for them, he had to work long hours at his trade, and at any other paying chore he could find.

Despite their poverty, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder’s children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew that their father could never afford to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy. Their names were Albrecht and Albert

Finally the two boys made a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when the brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his art work or, if necessary, by laboring in the mines.

They tossed a coin and Albrecht Durer won and went to Nuremberg . Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was an immediate sensation. Albrecht’s etchings, woodcuts, and oils were even finer than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was earning considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When Albrecht returned to his village, the Durer family held a celebratory dinner to mark his homecoming. After dinner, Albrecht raised a toast to his brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled him to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you.”

All heads turned to where Albert sat. He shook his lowered head and, holding up his hands, said softly:

“No, brother. 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 broken at least once, and I now suffer from arthritis so that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less wield a brush. No, brother, for me it is too late.”

Some years later, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward.

He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands,” but the world opened its hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed it “The Praying Hands.”

More than 450 years have passed. Today, Albrecht Durer’s portraits, sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but chances are that you, like most people, are familiar with one of them above all others: “Hands”

The next time you see a copy of that great creation, take a second look. And let it remind you that no one ever makes it alone.

Courtesy : Shyam, my IIM-B Classmate

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
2nd June 2011
Mumbai

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4 comments

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