Praying Hands Origin, History and Symbolism

The praying hands is a famous painting that was drawn using pencil and ink by the renowned artist Albrecht Durer.

It was created around the early years of the 16th century and several competing references are present regarding the creation of this masterpiece of art. This special work is stored in a museum named Albertina in Vienna, Austria.

This particular drawing was created by Durer using the special technique of white heightening along with the black ink on the blue-colored paper, which was made by himself. The drawing shows the hands of an apostle.

Origin of the Praying Hands

The theories of the origin of the praying hands were originally requested by Jacob Heller and are also named after him.

Origin of the Praying Hands
Origin of the Praying Hands

It is also said that this particular sketch is depicted and dedicated after the own hands of the artist and is also considered to be a symbolism of the hands of a common man.

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Similar kind of hands is featured in the other works which are made by the famous painter Durer. Various theories are present which suggest that there is a deeper story and, connection related to the praying hands.

It narrates the stories of sacrifice homage and familial love which are all very heartwarming and full of emotional content.

Features of the Praying Hands Artwork

The praying hands are a wonderful artwork that is drawn on a blue-colored paper that is handmade and made by the artist himself.

Features of the Praying Hands Artwork
Features of the Praying Artwork

This particular drawing is also considered to be the part of a series of sketches that were drawn by Albrecht Durer’s foreign altarpiece in the year 1508.

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The hands of a man who is praying to God by keeping them away from his chest are shown in the drawing which is made on a blue colored background.

The view of the night is depicted in the photo. The sleeves of the man who is standing in the praying hand’s position are folded and are noticeable in the masterpiece drawn by Durer.

About Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Durer was a famous German painter and printmaker who was born in the year 1471. He is famous for the past many centuries for his theories about the German renaissance and also numerous paintings which he has made.

About Albrecht Dürer
About Albrecht Dürer

He earned his reputation across all the parts of Europe because of the high-quality woodcut prints which he made. He was in touch and in communication with the major Italian artist present at that particular time like Leonardo da Vinci and Giovanni Bellini.

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Some of the most famous works done by him include Knight, death, and the devil which was drawn 1513 and Saint Jerome in his study in the year 1514, followed by Melancholia I in 1514.

But the work which gave him worldwide recognition was the praying hands which were a masterpiece drawn by him on a blue colored background paper which was also handmade.

He has been credited with the invention of the basic principles of ray tracing which is the technique used by the people in modern computer graphics.

He was a part of the high renaissance movement and was of German nationality. He died at the age of 56 in the Holy Roman Empire in the year 1528.

History of the Praying Hands

The praying hands which are also famous by the name of the study of the hands of an apostle is a drawing which is made up of pen and ink by the famous German printmaker and painter Albrecht Durer.

History of the Praying Hands

This work is present in the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria. The technique of white heightening and the black ink on a self-made blue colored paper was used by him for drawing this particular masterpiece.

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This drawing depicts the close up of joined hands of a male which are clasped together for praying and the partly rolled up sleeves can also be seen in this photo.

It is also believed that this particular drawing also used to contain a sketch of the head of the apostle but that particular portion was removed from drawing. It is believed that Durer made around 18 sketches for the altarpiece.

The first recognition in the public for this particular artwork was in the year 1871 when this masterpiece was exhibited in Vienna and then got the symbolism of the depiction of the hands of Durer’s brother who was one of the 18 siblings.


The praying hands is a painting which is considered to be a masterpiece and true evidence of literature and art from the early 13th and 14th century.

Symbolism of Praying Hands
Symbolism of Praying Hands

It is considered to be the basis for the technique of ray tracing which is used currently in the computer designing techniques.

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This picture is also considered to have various sentiments and emotions attached to it along with many stories and learnings. Various depictions and variations of this special painting are reproduced over time by many famous artists and painters.

They modified the painting according to their religion and tradition and then depicted the same thing differently.

This photo is also considered to be a breakthrough in the field of art and literature as the paper which was used for making this particular photo was also handmade.

It is exhibited in a museum present in Vienna, Austria, and is the center of attraction for thousands of tourists who visit this particular museum every year.

Over time, this particular masterpiece has become the source of inspiration for many painters, art lovers, and other budding art and craft aspirants all around the world.

The Familial Love Story

The following lines given below are not attributed to any author. However, there was copyright which was filed in the year 1933 by J Greenwald, which was called the legend of the Praying Hands by Albrecht Durer.

The Familial Love Story
The Familial Love Story

The following lines state the same:

Back in the 16th century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with 18 children. To keep food on the table for his brood, Albrecht Durer the Elder, the father​, and head of the household, was a goldsmith by profession and worked almost 18 hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood.

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Despite the family strain, two of Durer’s male children, Albrecht the Younger, and Albert, had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the academy there.

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 to work in the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy.

Then, in four years, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, 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 the Younger 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.

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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, 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.”

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 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 Albrecht Durer’s most famous work, “Praying Hands.”

Some believe that Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward in honor of his brother Albert.

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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, “Praying Hands.”

Let this work be your reminder, that no one ever makes it alone!


The Praying Hands is a wonderful masterpiece made by the famous German painter and theorist Albrecht Durer.  This particular painting was made in the year 1508 using a special paper of blue color which was hand made by Durer himself.

The painting is considered to be a breakthrough for techniques like ray tracing, which is presently used by many organizations all around the world for the work of modern computer graphics.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

When was the Praying Hands painting made by Albrecht Durer?

The Praying Hands was made by Albrecht Durer in the year 1508 using ink and pencil on a blue-colored handmade paper.

Where is the original painting of Praying Hands present in the world?

The original painting of the Praying Hands is present in the Albertine museum in the city of Vienna in Austria.

With which special movement was Albrecht Durer associated with?

Albrecht Durer was associated with the High Renaissance, which was a short period where the most exceptional art and literature works were produced in Rome, Florence, and Italy.