Signs: Gestures

2008

A cursory glance through the visual history of European devotional artwork reveals that hands were used as important signifiers of spiritual meaning, emotion, and social status. While the gist of specific gestures in devotional art can be guessed at, their original subtlety and power are lost to our contemporary visual language, though devotional works continue to be an essential part of art history curriculum. When removed from the context of classical paintings, what, if any, meaning do these gestures convey?