What his hands tell us about Bindo Altoviti

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:

21 yrs old, painted by Raphael
45 yrs old, pained by Francesco Salviati
59 yrs old, painted by Jacopino del Conte,

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.

4 thoughts on “What his hands tell us about Bindo Altoviti”

  1. His face expressions being similarly interesting: from curious-sceptical to distrustful and further to serious- friendly – my opinion!

  2. I like your characterization of Altoviti’s expression by as painted by Raphael: Curious-sceptical, a good attitude for a young person to have. His middle-aged expression, Nina thinks as tense, I see it as calculating which implies ‘distrustful’. The last one, Nina sees as relaxed. I see it as I see it as the culmination of his life’s experience, no longer a curious-skeptical youth, no longer a calculating power broker but having reached a state of wisdom, acceptance and kindness.
    Thank you for adding the information on Altoviti’s facial expression.

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