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The Story Of The Praying Hands


Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a 
family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on 
the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith
by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any 
other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood. 

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the 
Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for 
art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially 
able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy. 

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys 
finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down 
into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he 
attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed 
his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the 
academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by 
laboring in the mines. 

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the 
toss and went off to Nuremberg. Albert went down into the dangerous mines 
and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy
was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and 
his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the 
time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his 
commissioned works. 

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a 
festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming.
After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht 
rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to 
his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to 
fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother 
of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your 
dream, and I will take care of you." 

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert 
sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to 
side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No ...no ...no ...no." 
Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the 
long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right 
cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late 
for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The 
bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been 
suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a 
glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or 
canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late." 

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful 
portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and
copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are 
great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht 
Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may
have a reproduction hanging in your home or office. 

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer 
painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin 
fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but 
the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece
and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

Author Unknown

Picture Of The Praying Hands


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