The Human Touch

Making Art | Leaving Traces

The personality of hands

Marianne Raschig was the leading palm-reader in Germany between the two World Wars. She collected a substantial archive of handprints of well-known men and women in Berlin, to conduct a systematic study into what the lines and shapes of hands could reveal about a person’s character. Her book, Hand und Persönlichkeit (Hand and Personality) (1931), is still used today.

Raschig’s subjects would put their inked hands onto paper and then sign and date the print. In some cases Raschig would outline the prints in pencil to complete the shape.

Marianne Raschig (active 1870–1930s)
Hand prints of Käthe Kollwitz, signed 16 June 1925
Ink on paper, some touched with graphite, 20.9 x 16.5 cm: 20.9 x 16.3 cm
Katrin Bellinger Collection, 2013-017. Photograph © Matthew Hollow

Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945) is one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century, known for the intensity of her images and recurring themes of war, grief and mourning. She was interested in hand gestures and the expressive power of hands.

Section: Five

The personality of hands
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