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Praying Hands (Dürer)

Praying hands (German: Betende Hände), also known as Study of the Hands of an Apostle (Studie zu den Händen eines Apostels),* is a pen-and-ink drawing by the German printmaker, painter and theorist Albrecht Dürer. The work is today stored at the Albertina museum in Vienna, Austria. Dürer created the drawing using the technique of white heightening and black ink on (self-made) blue colored paper. The drawing shows a close up of two male hands clasped together praying. Also, the partly rolled up sleeves are seen.

Praying Hands
German: Betende Hände
Betende Hände
ArtistAlbrecht Dürer
Yearc. 1508
Dimensions29.1 cm × 19.7 cm (11.5 in × 7.8 in)
LocationAlbertina, Vienna

The drawing is a sketch (study) for hands of an apostle, whose full picture was planned to occupy the central panel of the triptych installed in Frankfurt entitled the Heller Altarpiece – destroyed by a fire in 1729.[1] The sketched hands appear on the triptych on the right side of the central panel, and although the detail appears very similar, it is smaller in size in the triptych.

The drawing also once contained a sketch of the apostle's head, but the sheet with the head has been separated from it. Overall, Dürer made 18 sketches for the altarpiece.[2] The first public recognition of the artwork was in 1871 when it was exhibited in Vienna, and the image is thought probably to depict Dürer's own hands.[3] [4]


  1. ^ Robert Perry Hardison (Barefoot): "Dürer". Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  2. ^ (in German) Die Welt "Wie Albrecht Dürer die Betenden Hände erfand", 24 December 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  3. ^ (in German) Kultur: "Dürers „Betende Hände“ Tausendmal kopiert", 22 November 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  4. ^ (in German) Theophil-online, ökumenische Online-Zeitschrift: "Call God - Materialien für einen alternativen Zugang zum Thema Gebet im Religionsunterricht - 2.3.5. Variationen zu Albrecht Dürers Betende Hände", Gerd Buschmann 2002. Retrieved 2010-05-30.