It’s a fact of life that human hands are difficult to draw and model. I was reminded of this as I perused my photos from St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Washington.

Two handsome mid-century monuments (figures 1, 2), well past the neoclassical and even art deco periods. The Peniston sculptor incised a fairly decent pair of hands in the figure of Jesus in Gethsemone (figure 3).

Figure 3. Peniston monument. Detail: folded hands of Jesus. St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Washington, D.C. Photo: author.

There’s one stray bit, I think, at about the knuckle of the little finger of the right hand, but it’s not a bad rendition of interlocked fingers, especially at a distance.

Figure 4. DiBuchianico monument. St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Washington, D.C. Photo: author.

By contrast, the hands of the DiBuchianico Jesus (figure 4), in the same (but reflected) pose are, ahem, ‘mannered,’ to say the least. The cutter knew that he was not up to interwoven fingers—no problem with a little self-knowledge there. But everything about the proportions and articulation of these hands is pretty badly off. It’s a pity: the cutter has a neat way of doing drapery with some big looping curves.

The cover photo is of the hands of the subject of an Attic funerary stele in the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus. The photo is by Giovanni dall’Orto (with permission). Wikimedia Commons.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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