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The Wrist

When they speak about the particularities of the majority of the painters, there are two points regularly mentioned: The incomparable acuity of their eyes, and the exceptional dexterity of their hands. It is said that the painterís look is so sharp and searching that a simple glance allows him to catch and remember a lot of details for which ordinary people are quite indifferent.

As for the hands of the artist, they are object of a special admiration. They are supple, clever, and magical. Only to them, we should attribute the greatest achievements of the painting.

The French painter Eugene Delacroix, who was the head of the Romantic School, doesnít praise the hand so much. According to him, the accuracy, the daring, and the beauty of a drawing or a brush stroke should be attributable only to the wrist.

"Only the wrist, said Delacroix, and not the hand, transmits motion to the brush, like to the pen of the hand writing master, when he makes flourishes. The hand has only the use of holding the tool which writes, draws, or paints. The hand remains, so to speak, stiff with a certain flexibility, and only obeys the action of the wrist. The hand is totally beside all the inflexions of the wrist."

Auguste Renoir, the famous French impressionist painter, is even more peremptory. One day, while he was painting with a brush strapped to his fingers paralyzed and deformed by an acute arthritis, he noticed that his friend Vollard was observing him with fascination. He then told him: "As you can see, my dear Vollard, there is no need of the hand to paint".

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