29. Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael

Urbino 1483 – 1520 Rome

Study of a Right Hand Holding a Book

Raphael often paid great attention to hands in his drawings, aware of their capacity to embody the thoughts and actions of his characters. No connection has been made between these two studies of hands and any of his paintings. Either of these, one carrying a chalice the other a book, could belong to the figure of a saint. It is also probable that the second of the two hands belongs to the Virgin, interrupted in her reading by the Christ Child sitting on her lap; this was a subject frequently painted by this great master of the Italian Renaissance – for example, in the Madonna del Libro in Florence (Palazzo Pitti). Drawn and shaded with great energy, the hands are accurately represented in their anatomy as well as in the foreshortening required by perspective. They illustrate the desire to fuse naturalism with refinement, so characteristic of the art of Raphael.