Nicolas de Largillierre Etude des Mains


The Louvre is so big that it is impossible to visit the entire museum in a single day. To allow myself to be surprised whenever I visit the Louvre I therefore select a few galleries and force myself to look at everything on show, whether it is up my alley or not. This way I often happen upon works that I wouldn't otherwise discover, such as this amazing Etudes des mains (Study of Hands) by Nicolas de Largillierre (1656-1746), which hangs in a gallery of 17th century French art. Even tough it was painted around 1715 it looks very modern.

The painting reminded me of one of my own projects. Years ago I made a video collage, which consisted of a grid of twenty short videos of hand movements playing in a loop (*). Even though each clip lasted only 10 seconds you could continue looking at it for much longer. I created it out of the clips that were left over after I had edited the video I had intended to make from the footage that I shot after we'd stopped rehearsing for the project I was working on. The video collage proved to be the most interesting as well as the most popular, perhaps because it was the furthest removed from my preconceptions. It is the same with the work of Nicolas de Largillierre. The paintings with which he made a name for himself are indistinguishable from other works of the period. But this Study of Hands stands out.

(*) The project is currently offline, because it was made with Flash and no longer plays on contemporary devices. I still plan to one day re-create some of my early projects. What is holding me back is that ten years from now they may again no longer play.


Some more studies of hands by Nicolas de Largillierre.

Category: Art