A STUDY OF HANDS

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Images: Jonathan Russell / www.criterionauctioneers.com.

Technically it is an ‘attributed’ work because of no recorded provenance, but it has all the hallmarks of Annie’s later paintings – the variation of colour across the canvas with no broad monochrome areas, skilled modelling of the hands, ‘unfinished’ appearance, and lack of detail in peripheral areas – and the framing and labeling is all as it should be, so I am personally confident in the attribution.

The treatment of the hands is similar to those in Count Zouboff, dated 1908-9.

A label on the back refers to the picture having been included in an exhibition, ‘A Painter’s Choice,’ arranged by the ‘Art Exhibitions Bureau,’ Suffolk Street, Pall Mall (a street just to the north-west of Trafalgar Square, London). Another label identifies the frame as having been fitted or restored by James Bourlet and Sons, a London fine art framing specialist.

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2018-04-07 140731 Manchester - Swynnerton aged 78 (RA photo)A photograph from 1922 shows Annie wearing rings on the outer fingers of her left hand, so this could possibly be a ‘hands self-portrait.’

  • Date: unknown, but possibly c. 1908-9 by similarity to Count Zouboff.
  • Medium: oil on canvas.
  • Dimensions: 305 x 380 mm (0.12 m²), unframed.
  • History: 26 Aug 2019 auctioned Criterion, Islington, est. £200-£300, sold £500 (£632 with fees).*
  • Location: private collection.

* In Annie’s posthumous studio sale there were at least two ‘studies of hands’ in the ‘unfinished and unstretched’ part of the auction, lot 145, ‘A study of hands,’ sold with three other paintings, and lot 150, ‘Studies of hands, etc.’, three paintings sold together under this title. A ‘Study of hands‘ was auctioned at Christie’s, 6 Mar 1986, the dimensions given are almost identical to this work, so probably the same painting. The author Anissa Helou owned a ‘Study of hands,’ but sold off her collection in 1999 and kept no record of the piece.