The Story of the Praying Hands: Late in the 15th Century, two young wood-carving apprentices in France confided to each other their desire to study painting. But such study would take money, and both Hans and Albrecht were poor.

Finally, though, they had a solution. Let one work and earn money while the other studied. Then, when the lucky one became rich and famous, let him in turn aid the other. They tossed a coin and Albrecht won. So while Albrecht went to Venice, Hans worked as a blacksmith. As quickly as he received his wages he would forward money to his friend.

The months stretched into years – and at last Albrecht returned to his native land, an independent master. Now it was his turn to help Hans. The two men met in joyous reunion, but when Albrecht looked at his friend tears welled from his eyes. Only then did he discover the extent of Hans’ sacrifice. The many years of hard labour in the blacksmith shop had calloused and bruised Hans sensitive hands. His fingers could never again handle a painter’s brush.

In humble gratitude to Hans for his years of sacrifice, the artist, the great Albrecht Dürer, painted a portrait of the work-worn hands that had laboured so faithfully in order that he might develop his talent. He presented this painting of ‘praying hands’ to his devoted friend. It has since become familiar to millions of people.

Source: The Best of Bits & Pieces, 1994, New Jersey: The Economics Press, p.161-162