In the 15th century, in a small village near Nüremberg, a family lived with several children.
To put bread on the table for everyone, the father worked about 18 hours a day in the coal mines, and anything else that came up.
Two of his children had a dream: he wanted to dedicate himself to painting, but they knew that his father could never send them both to study at the Academy.
After many nights of talking and exchanging ideas, the two brothers reached an agreement: they would throw a coin to draw lots, and the loser would work in the mines to pay the studies to the winner. When finishing his studies, the winner would then pay, with the sale of his works, the studies to which had stayed at home.
Thus, the two brothers could be artists.
They launched the coin on a Sunday when they left the Church. One of them, called Albrecht, won, and went to study painting in Nüremberg.
Then the other brother, Albert, started the dangerous work in the mines, where he stayed for the next four years to pay for his brother’s studies, which from the first moment became, soon, a success in the Academy.
Albrecht’s engravings, carvings and oils were much better than those of many of his teachers. When he graduated, he had already started to earn considerable sums from the sales of his art.
When the young artist returned to his village, the Dürer family gathered for a festive dinner in his honor.
At the end of the memorable party, Albrecht stood in his place of honor at the table, and proposed a toast to his beloved brother, who had sacrificed so much, working in the mines to make his dream of studying a reality. And said:
– “Now, my brother, your turn has come. Now you can go to Nüremberg and pursue your dreams, which I will take care of for all your expenses.”
All eyes turned, full of expectation, to the place of the table that occupied his brother. But the latter, his face wet with tears, stood up and said softly:
– “No, brother, I can’t go to Nüremberg. It’s too late for me. These four years of mine work have destroyed my hands. Every bone in my fingers has broken at least once, and the arthritis in my right hand has advanced so much it took me a while to raise the glass for your toast. I couldn’t work with delicate lines, with the compass or with the parchment, and I couldn’t handle the pen or the brush. No, brother, it’s too late for me. But I am happy that my misshapen hands have served that yours have now fulfilled your dream “.
More than 450 years have passed since that day. Today the prints, oils, watercolors, carvings and other works by Albrecht Dürer can be seen in museums around the World.
To pay homage to his brother’s sacrifice, Albrecht Dürer drew his battered hands, palms together and fingers pointing to the sky.
He called this powerful work simply “Hands”, but the whole world immediately opened his heart to his work of art and changed the name of the work to: “Hands that pray”.
The next time you see a copy of this work, look at it carefully. And it serves so that, when you feel too proud of what you do, and very sure of yourself, remember that in life … nobody triumphs alone!
Birth: 21 May 1471, in Imperial Free City of Nürnberg (now in Germany)
Death: 6 April 1528, in Imperial Free City of Nürnberg (now in Germany)