27. Alvise Vivarini

Venice 1442/53 – 1503/05 Venice

Six Studies of Hands, before 1480

This is one of the very few drawings that can be attribut­ed with certainty to Alvise Vivarini. The hands are de­picted in painstaking detail with a linear and delicate (if somewhat stiff) graphic language, very characteristic of this artist of the Venetian Renaissance. Grouped all to­gether on this sheet, these are models that Vivarini trans­ferred directly and faithfully to a number of different paintings. Four of the hands were used for saints in an altarpiece in the Galleria dell’Accademia (1480), the hand at lower left in the St Jerome in Denver, while the arm was used in three different paintings for the figure of St John the Baptist (Denver, Berlin and Madrid). The codification of the position or of the object held by each of the six hands contributes to the identification of the saint to which it corresponds in the paintings.