Hands

Educator Alice Schwarz ruminates about how one's hands give away information about a person.

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But at the same time I'm fascinated and really kind of turned on by rugged, dirty hands that show this is a person that works.

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  • "Hands" by Alice Schwarz
    1280852
  • The Hand of God  |  modeled ca. 1896, this marble executed ca. 1907  |  Auguste Rodin (French)  |  Marble  |  Gift of Edward D. Adams, 1908 (08.210)
    8951024
  • Ernesta (Child with Nurse)  |  1894  |  Cecilia Beaux (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund, 1965 (65.49)
    7691024
  • Lady Elizabeth Hamilton (1753–1797), Countess of Derby  |  1776–78  |  George Romney (British)  |  Oil on canvas  |  The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.57)
    8171024
  • Lady Elizabeth Hamilton (1753–1797), Countess of Derby  |  1776–78  |  George Romney (British)  |  Oil on canvas  |  The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.57)
    1044973
  • A Royal Hand  |  New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1349–1336 b.c.  |  Egyptian  |  Limestone, traces of paint  |  Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985 (1985.328.1)
    12781024
  • Hand Hacha  |  4th–7th century  |  Mexico, Veracruz  |  Stone  |  The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1042)
    9751024
  • The Writing Master  |  1882  |  Thomas Eakins (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1917 (17.173)
    11711024
  • The Writing Master  |  1882  |  Thomas Eakins (American)  |  Oil on canvas  |  John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1917 (17.173)
    1280764
  • Grave stele of a little girl  |  ca. 450–440 b.c.  |  Greek  |  Parian marble  |  Fletcher Fund, 1927 (27.45)
    5831024
  • Grave stele of a little girl  |  ca. 450–440 b.c.  |  Greek  |  Parian marble  |  Fletcher Fund, 1927 (27.45)
    743867
  • The Fortune Teller  |  probably 1630s  |  Georges de La Tour (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Rogers Fund, 1960 (60.30)
    12411024
  • The Fortune Teller  |  probably 1630s  |  Georges de La Tour (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Rogers Fund, 1960 (60.30)
    1280910
  • The Fortune Teller  |  probably 1630s  |  Georges de La Tour (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Rogers Fund, 1960 (60.30)
    9321024
  • The Fortune Teller  |  probably 1630s  |  Georges de La Tour (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Rogers Fund, 1960 (60.30)
    1280929
  • The Death of Socrates  |  1787  |  Jacques-Louis David (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931 (31.45)
    1280843
  • The Death of Socrates  |  1787  |  Jacques-Louis David (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931 (31.45)
    1175995
  • The Death of Socrates  |  1787  |  Jacques-Louis David (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931 (31.45)
    700954
  • The Death of Socrates  |  1787  |  Jacques-Louis David (French)  |  Oil on canvas  |  Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931 (31.45)
    7841024
  • Women of Allah: From Way In Way Out portfolio (published 1996)  |  1994  |  Shirin Neshat (American, born Iran)  |  Pen and ink on photograph  |  Purchase, Reba and Dave Williams Gift, 1997 (1997.129.8)
    6881024
  • Judith with the Head of Holofernes  |  ca. 1530  |  Lucas Cranach the Elder (German)  |  Oil on wood  |  Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.15)
    7021024
  • Ugolino and His Sons  |  modeled ca. 1860–61, executed in marble 1865–67  |  Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French)  |  Saint-Bèat marble  |  Purchase, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation Inc. Gift and Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation Inc. Gift, and Fletcher Fund, 1967 (67.250)
    8361024
  • The Goddess Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon, Mahisha (Mahishasuramardini)  |  Pala period, 12th century  |  Bangladesh or India  |  Argillite  |  H. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)  |  Purchase, Diana and Arthur G. Altschul Gift, 1993 (1993.7)
    7581024
  • Alice Schwarz
    1280852
  • I'm Alice Schwarz, and I'm a museum educator here at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. My topic is hands.

  • I have a very clear memory, when I was a little girl of my father's rather large hand holding me as we walked here in the streets of New York and every once in a while he would

  • give me three tight squeezes, which means, "I love you," and that's something I do to my boys now.

  • This is the thing about hands, hands give away so much information. I personally am not a manicure-type gal.

  • I don't like fingernail polish, I don't spend time on my hands at all.

  • But I like to see somebody else's hands that are beautifully manicured. I love how elongated fingers can show off beautiful rings.

  • But at the same time I'm fascinated and really kind of turned on by rugged, dirty hands that show this is a person that works.

  • Thomas Eakins's The Writing Master, is a portrait actually of his father, who's writing, but to me it's all about the hands. The light falling on those hands

  • you can see the age spots, you can see a touch of arthritis around the knuckles. I just think it's a stunning portrait of an activity of hands.

  • There's a wonderful Grave stele of a little girl, and she's holding two doves, which I think are her pets. And if you look really closely

  • it looks like the little girl used to bite her nails, it has very, very short nails to it. It's just such a loving hold that she has on her pets.

  • The Fortune Teller is to me a symphony of hands. You've got two hands towards the middle ground that are in beautiful spotlight.

  • The hand open of the young dandy, and he is receiving a coin from the fortune teller, who's been completely distracting him

  • while her accomplices are picking his pocket and stealing his

  • jewelry in all of the shadows at the bottom.

  • Certain hand movements are universal. Socrates in prison has just announced that he's going to kill himself by drinking a cup of hemlock. His left hand pointing to the heavens, perhaps a reference of where he's headed, but to me it's an announcement of something that I need to say, I need to have your attention. And when you start to look at all of his

  • students, you have hands that are covering ears as if you just don't want to hear the truth. You have a hand that is outstretched, nearly touching the knee of Socrates.

  • Perhaps the most solemn is Plato. He has his two hands just gently placed, one on top of the other.

  • Down that little hallway in the distance you see one female, and that is Socrates' wife with simply the hand up, a gesture palm out almost like a wave goodbye.

  • I am a person that talks with my hands. And I think if you don't speak with your hands, you're missing out on something.

  • I actually was asked once to make a presentation while sitting on my hands, and I must say

  • I'm not sure anything I said made sense, to be perfectly honest.

  • I think almost like watching beautifully choreographed dance, to watch somebody use their hands is graceful and sort of

  • theater in its own right.

  • 08.210_v001
    The Hand of God, modeled ca. 1896, this marble executed ca. 1907, Auguste Rodin (French), Marble Gift of Edward D. Adams, 1908 (08.210)
  • 65.49
    Ernesta (Child with Nurse), 1894, Cecilia Beaux (American), Oil on canvas Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund, 1965 (65.49)
  • 49.7.57
    Lady Elizabeth Hamilton (1753–1797), Countess of Derby, 1776–78, George Romney (British), Oil on canvas The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.57)
  • 1985.328.1
    A Royal Hand, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1349–1336 b.c., Egyptian, Limestone, traces of paint Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985 (1985.328.1)
  • 1979.206.1042
    Hand Hacha, 4th–7th century, Mexico, Veracruz, Stone The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1042)
  • 17.173
    The Writing Master, 1882, Thomas Eakins (American), Oil on canvas John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1917 (17.173)
  • 27.45
    Grave stele of a little girl, ca. 450–440 b.c., Greek, Parian marble Fletcher Fund, 1927 (27.45)
  • 60.30
    The Fortune Teller, probably 1630s, Georges de La Tour (French), Oil on canvas Rogers Fund, 1960 (60.30)
  • 31.45
    The Death of Socrates, 1787, Jacques-Louis David (French), Oil on canvas Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931 (31.45)
  • 1997.129.8
    Women of Allah: From Way In Way Out portfolio (published 1996), 1994, Shirin Neshat (American, born Iran), Pen and ink on photograph Purchase, Reba and Dave Williams Gift, 1997 (1997.129.8)
  • 11.15
    Judith with the Head of Holofernes, ca. 1530, Lucas Cranach the Elder (German), Oil on wood Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.15)
  • 67.250
    Ugolino and His Sons, modeled ca. 1860–61, executed in marble 1865–67, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French), Saint-Bèat marble Purchase, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation Inc. Gift and Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation Inc. Gift, and Fletcher Fund, 1967 (67.250)
  • 1993.7
    The Goddess Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon, Mahisha (Mahishasuramardini), Pala period, 12th century, Bangladesh or India, Argillite H. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm) Purchase, Diana and Arthur G. Altschul Gift, 1993 (1993.7)
  • The Hand of God, modeled ca. 1896, this marble executed ca. 1907, Auguste Rodin (French), Marble Gift of Edward D. Adams, 1908 (08.210)
    Ernesta (Child with Nurse), 1894, Cecilia Beaux (American), Oil on canvas Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund, 1965 (65.49)
    Lady Elizabeth Hamilton (1753–1797), Countess of Derby, 1776–78, George Romney (British), Oil on canvas The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.57)
    A Royal Hand, New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1349–1336 b.c., Egyptian, Limestone, traces of paint Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985 (1985.328.1)
    Hand Hacha, 4th–7th century, Mexico, Veracruz, Stone The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1042)
    The Writing Master, 1882, Thomas Eakins (American), Oil on canvas John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1917 (17.173)
    Grave stele of a little girl, ca. 450–440 b.c., Greek, Parian marble Fletcher Fund, 1927 (27.45)
    The Fortune Teller, probably 1630s, Georges de La Tour (French), Oil on canvas Rogers Fund, 1960 (60.30)
    The Death of Socrates, 1787, Jacques-Louis David (French), Oil on canvas Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931 (31.45)
    Women of Allah: From Way In Way Out portfolio (published 1996), 1994, Shirin Neshat (American, born Iran), Pen and ink on photograph Purchase, Reba and Dave Williams Gift, 1997 (1997.129.8)
    Judith with the Head of Holofernes, ca. 1530, Lucas Cranach the Elder (German), Oil on wood Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.15)
    Ugolino and His Sons, modeled ca. 1860–61, executed in marble 1865–67, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French), Saint-Bèat marble Purchase, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation Inc. Gift and Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation Inc. Gift, and Fletcher Fund, 1967 (67.250)
    The Goddess Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon, Mahisha (Mahishasuramardini), Pala period, 12th century, Bangladesh or India, Argillite H. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm) Purchase, Diana and Arthur G. Altschul Gift, 1993 (1993.7)
    8000–2000 B.C.
    2000–1000 B.C.
    1000 B.C.–1 A.D.
    1–500 A.D.
    500–1000 A.D.
    1000–1400 A.D.
    1400–1600 A.D.
    1600–1800 A.D.
    1800–1900 A.D.
    1900–Present

    Works of art in order of appearance

    Last Updated: August 19, 2013. Not all works of art in the Museum's collection may be on view on a particular day. For the most accurate location information, please check this page on the day of your visit.

    The Hand of God
    modeled ca. 1896, this marble executed ca. 1907
    Auguste Rodin (French)
    Marble
    Gift of Edward D. Adams, 1908 (08.210)
    On view: Gallery 800
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    Ernesta (Child with Nurse)
    1894
    Cecilia Beaux (American)
    Oil on canvas
    Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund, 1965 (65.49)
    On view: Gallery 768
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Lady Elizabeth Hamilton (1753–1797), Countess of Derby
    1776–78
    George Romney (British)
    Oil on canvas
    The Jules Bache Collection, 1949 (49.7.57)
    On view: Gallery 629
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    A Royal Hand
    New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Akhenaten, ca. 1349–1336 b.c.
    Egyptian
    Limestone, traces of paint
    Gift of Norbert Schimmel, 1985 (1985.328.1)
    On view: Gallery 121
    Egyptian ArtFirst Floor
    Hand Hacha
    4th–7th century
    Mexico, Veracruz
    Stone
    The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1042)
    Not on view
    Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the AmericasFirst Floor
    The Writing Master
    1882
    Thomas Eakins (American)
    Oil on canvas
    John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1917 (17.173)
    On view: Gallery 767
    American Paintings and SculptureFirst and Second Floors
    Grave stele of a little girl
    ca. 450–440 b.c.
    Greek
    Parian marble
    Fletcher Fund, 1927 (27.45)
    On view: Gallery 156
    Greek and Roman ArtFirst Floor and Mezzanine
    The Fortune Teller
    probably 1630s
    Georges de La Tour (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Rogers Fund, 1960 (60.30)
    On view: Gallery 617
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    The Death of Socrates
    1787
    Jacques-Louis David (French)
    Oil on canvas
    Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931 (31.45)
    On view: Gallery 614
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Women of Allah: From Way In Way Out portfolio (published 1996)
    1994
    Shirin Neshat (American, born Iran)
    Pen and ink on photograph
    Purchase, Reba and Dave Williams Gift, 1997 (1997.129.8)
    Not on view
    Modern and Contemporary ArtSecond Floor
    Judith with the Head of Holofernes
    ca. 1530
    Lucas Cranach the Elder (German)
    Oil on wood
    Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.15)
    On view: Gallery 643
    European PaintingsSecond Floor
    Ugolino and His Sons
    modeled ca. 1860–61, executed in marble 1865–67
    Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French)
    Saint-Bèat marble
    Purchase, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation Inc. Gift and Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation Inc. Gift, and Fletcher Fund, 1967 (67.250)
    On view: Gallery 548
    European Sculpture and Decorative ArtsFirst Floor
    The Goddess Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon, Mahisha (Mahishasuramardini)
    Pala period, 12th century
    Bangladesh or India
    Argillite
    H. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)
    Purchase, Diana and Arthur G. Altschul Gift, 1993 (1993.7)
    On view: Gallery 171
    Asian ArtSecond Floor

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