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The sun. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1833-1916, November 09, 1913, FOURTH SECTION PICTORIAL MAGAZINE, Image 37

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030272/1913-11-09/ed-1/seq-37/

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Copyright by H.irir & llmilierii,
Miss Mary Lawton, Whose Hands Are Considered
Ideal, Says We Are Far Behind in the Technic
of Their Movements in Dramatic Art
OU use your hands admira
bly," said David Belasco to
Miss Mary Lawton, who was
rehearsing In one of his pro
"I do because I fully realize their
dramatic Importance," Miss Lawton re
plied. This was an expression of the
creed which has made the small parts
she has played Individual and has added
distinction to those of wider scope. To
quote her exact words:
"The hand Is one of the most potent
factors in art."
DanJel Chester Fpnch, the sculptor,
considers Miss Lawton's hands Ideal
from every point of view contour, cx
"presslon and dramatic power and she
has posed for the hands and arms of his
Ideal women. In his studio on West
Eighth street she talked with a reporter
for The Sunday Sun about the dramatic
importance of the hand. The sculptor
occasionally Interrupted his modelling
to put in a word or to emphasize some
thing she said.
"If we needed to convince ourselves
that we are far behind our possibilities
In tho use of the hand and arm on the
stage," uhe said, "all that It is necessary
for us to do Is to study the perfection
of the art In France and Italy. Even
the English actors, handicapped by their
traditions, are as a general rule superior
to us In this respect because they are
. more thorough In technic
"I have studied the hands of all the
great actresses and those that made the
most profound Impression upon me were
Duao's. Bernhardt uses hers wonder
fully, for "he Is too great In technic
. to overlook or belittle their aid, but
Duse's hands express more than the
French actress's, for they have besides
rare poetic grace Intense subtlety and
spiritual sugestlon. I had watched her
with feellngi of mingled admiration,
..envy and hopeleune In 'Adrlenne Le-
' , . ,L -
Aiivrtiiir.- 'MUU mna hjvii
dIavs. but until I mw her aa the wife
la 'dloconda' I did not wake up to her
iBiUacrlbabl art in this direction,
"la 'Olocoada' there la the Inevitable
trlaagle. The wife ana the interloper
tkls time the model of the husband
ham a furious quarrel in nia bxuojo.
Ib the turmoil the flalabed statue la la
an' " daager of felllag d the
-u. foMfttfui of her wrosgft. mvm It;
aev war Banea mim
"In the next scene she appears with
the amputated members concealed be
neath a long clinging robe of black
crepy stuff, but you are more conscious
of those poor limbs than If they were
whole, and in the last act, wnere tne
child rushes toward her and she is I
unable to take It In her maternal em
brace, Duse reaches the very height of
expressive art.
"I was speaking of this scene to Mr.
French one day. He was silent a mo
ment, then said: 'I doubt if In sculptural
art there is anything more expressive
than the lost arms of the Venus de Mllo
and those of the Samothraclan "Vic
tory." How we would resent their res
toration! And if it were possible that
authentic data should be discovered and
official sanction given to their modelling,
what a public calamity! As It is we
dream those arms Into place, ami to
each dreamer is his own Interpretation.'
"Mme. Simone used her hands de
lightfully. As a general rule while the
French use their hands much more
frequently to accentuate their speech,
or In place of it, than either Anglo
Saxon or Teuton, they arc not nearly
so graceful or convincing with these
gestures as arc the Italians. With the
latter every movement has u special slg-
faclle but never futile, while the French
nlficance; their gestures are always
frequently express with theirs a general
mood of excitement, Irritation and the
like rather than a specific feeling.
"Novelll said once and possibly lif
ts the greatest character actor In the
world at the present moment that his
study was the street, the hospital anil
the shop or other place where people
gathered together. It was there he
watched the faces and hands drawn
with pain, the furtive movement of
the mendicant, the nonchalant gesture
of the upple rating boy, the careless
farewell on tin- street corner, superfi
cially light but hiding n heartache. Even
the hands holding subway straps are
food to the Imagination.
"After hearing Mark Twain lecture
Sir Henry Irving said that Mr. Clemens
would have made 11 better actor than
writer. Mark Twain had beautiful
hands, and often I have seen him stop
nnd complete his sentence with a ges
ture so convincing that words would
Daniel Chester French, the Sculptor, Has Used
Miss Lawton's Hands and Arms in Many of
His Figures Duse's Remarkable Power
"BV lUanm I, t,..mu In,,. . ,1 1 . , . I 1 1.I M Ml , ! I M til
I each dreamer is bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbH
simone her hands du- IIbbbbbbbbbbbbPPbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbVII
As a rule the llK 'Hl
use their hands much more mBBBBBBBBBBm 'bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbH
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M I or In place than either Anglo- llhHI
Bur iney arc not nearly i UBTT'B II
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M latter every has u slg- I Ubbbbbbbbw; bbbbbbbbbbbHII
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HmBS9PW Miss Mary Lawton.
Heroic igtft by Daniel Chester French, for bands and arms ot which Miss Uwton posed.
have detracted from rather than added
to his meaning.
"I also asked Mr. French to name some
actor whose hands had Impressed him
aa perfect In their expressive force. He
mentioned those of George Arllsa Im
"Pantomlmlsts and dancers all study
the ues and meaning of the hand and
arm; it is only tho actor who seems to
Ignore their Importance. Yet in n
small part where a player has but tho
one moment to hold his audience think
how with the clever, convincing gesture
he can walk oft with the honors e all
so zealously crave. Many actresses
know how to dress; they are perfect In '
facial expression, but huw many of
their hands do you recall when you
leavo a theatre? How frequently you
hear the expression 'Her face was
perfectly wonderful In that third act",
how Infrequently you hear 'Old you
notice with what a superb gesture the
expressed her disdain'."
"Mr. French has also a great admira
tion for the late Adelaide Nellson. Of
her he has said to me many times, 'I
felt her hands tho moment she came on
the stage.'
"Another shining exception is Mary
Garden, whom I personally' consider
the greatest actress In this coun
try. The technic of her hand move
ment is marvellous; there is Just aa
much difference in the use of theso
members when she Is Mcllsnmli; 'i
lonu; l.c Juiiulcur, Thais as there is in
the music she sings. Tho hands of
77in(.i are particularly worth studying.
The contrast between tho makeup und
gestures of tho courtesan und the nun
touches the opposite notes of thu scale
In this direction.
"Another celebrity whoso hands may
bo studied with profit is Miss Huth St
Denis. Sho has a wonderful cobrn
dance In which tho muscles underneath
tho skin ripple with the sinuous, tin
dulatlng movement of tho reptile, nnd
her hand, with Its queer rings simu
lating eyes, Is a replica of tho serpent's
heud and seems always about to strike,
Then watch thoso same hands when
sho holds a lotus llower, when she
burns Incense, when as a Yogi, nearly
reaching Nirvana, sho expresses tho
height of splrltuulity. Well, words Just
full to express my admiration.
"I'avlowa'8 hands are like the etals
of a flower when she dances nnd you
expect to see them float away. The
way Genee holds the edge of her skirts
Is a revelation, too, In tho art of the
hand and wrist."
Mr. French, being asked to explain
Just what he meant by a beautiful hand,
"The beautiful hand does not neces
sarily mean a hand that Is absolutely
correct according to standard measure
ments any more than tho beautiful face
must mean the face that Is classic.
Browning In the poem 'Andrea del
Sarto1 haa the painter say to his wife,
'Your hand It 1 a woman In Itself.'
That hand must have been beautiful
because it was expressive. And you
feel Its femininity.
"The cvprossho hand may be beauti
ful, however. Miss Lawton's Is. Fre
quently I have been puzzled to know
how to place her hand ami arm and she
has. without thought, taken the evict
pose. This was pnitleulnrly noticeable
In the statue of 'Memory'"
"When I was new in the profession
I followed Mr. French's advice," in
terpolated Miss Lawton, "and In the
galleries here and In Europe eaicfmly
studied the poses of t ie hands. When
I saw the famous Holbein at the Na
tional Gallery, London, I thought what
an interesting document a east of hands,
beginning with the meilliev.il time,
would make for the woman suffrage
"The medieval hancK and the Dutch
1'rlncess of Holbein furnishes a fair
example, wore usually fat, dimpled and
soulless, You felt that the woman
gained her end by Intrigue, that she
was completely dominated, soul, mind
mid body, and had neither lntelleetii.il
nor spiritual force. Compare that lino
less, futile hand with the hand of to
day; what centuries of menial nnd
spiritual evolution aie demoiistialeil in
that difference!
"I think that most of us remember
tho hands of Mona Lisa as well as we
do her face, If the SphiiiN had been
furnished with these members I Imag
ine they would lesemble those of the
Italian slgnorlna whom Leonardo
painted to slow, sensuous music.
"Once In Paris I visited Rodin's studio
In thu Sncrv Ovur. He had recently
completed n cast of two hands, thoso of
a man nnd a woman. The man's hand
enfolded the woman's, which was closed
like the petals of n rose within It. Ho
sold It was his habit to asl: visitors to
name his newly completed work, and
several titles were suggested by our
party. 'Protection' was the favorite. I
often wonder what he did call it. He
had so marvellously contrasted the two,
not only In regard to shape, size and
contour but also expression, ono so
masculine, tho other so divinely fem
inine." Mr. French hns a very interesting
collection of hands, At tho close ot
the Interview Miss Lnwtnn selected one
and held It up to view. In her own ex
pressive hand it formed a wonderful
contrust, which Mr, French smilingly
pointed out.
It was the hand of a child-woman,
grown up In body but not In mind. It
wns the sort of hand that would be
pretty on a five-year-old, but not on a
woman of twenty-five. It waa plump
and dimpled. The nails were carefully
shaped and manicured. The fingera
were nearly all the. same length, and
there waa not a line In It.

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