Paintings of Bindo Altoviti (1491 to 1557) by three different Renaissance artists illustrate what hands can tell about character.
Educated at the papal court and later, as a major papal banker, Bindo Altoviti knew Renaissance artists. Three of them – Raphael, Francesco Salviati and Jacopino del Conte – painted him at different times. Looking at these paintings, our eyes move from Bindo’s face, particularly his eyes, to his hands:
A pictorial procession from a, reportedly, idealistic young aristocrat with his right hand resting on his heart, to a middle-aged power broker of turbulent Renaissance politics with both hands clasped together almost hidden at the bottom of the painting, to, lastly, an elderly patron of the arts with both hands freely extended, one holding a glove and the other pointing to a work of art.
It appears that these paintings of his hands express different facets of Bindo Altoviti’s character.
Renaissance artists were employed by the church and the rich. Bindo Altoviti had the artists create frescos for his palazzo in Rome, and his suburban villa. He was not only their patron but also their friend. For example, when Michelangelo had to flee from Florence, he gave him sanctuary in Rome.
An earlier post “Different hands, different spirits” has now been extended, by adding the full portraits of the sitters to allow viewing the interplay of eyes with hands there too.