|Hands, 1508, Albrecht Durer|
In returning home, legend has it Albrecht was prepared to uphold his end of the bargain, only to come to the realization that his younger brother Albert's hands, suffering the abuse of four years in the mines, could no longer hold the tools of the artist's trade. To make a long story short, in gratitude, Albrecht drew his brother's gnarled hands, thereby creating one of the most beloved and touching pieces of Christian art in the world today. Is the story true? I don't know, and given the almost 500 years that have passed since the work was done, it's unlikely anyone else does either. But those of us who owe a debt of gratitude to others for our being the artists we are today, would like to think so. In the final analysis, it doesn't really matter anyway. Art historians would point to the vast quantity of Durer's other work, most of it at least arguably better than the Hands (certainly less overexposed), and note the fact that it's a lovely story, perhaps a little too conveniently illustrating a moral that may or may not have been intended by the artist, Durer was, in any case, a devoutly religious man. I guess we might all hope that someday, something we do with our talented hands might give rise to such a beautiful story.