Gari Melchers: Left or Right Handed?

Very often visitors to Belmont will see the many Gari Melchers self-portraits and paintings of him by other artists, as well as historical photographs, and ask us whether he painted with his left or right hand.

For many artists of earlier generations, before the advent of photography or whose self-portraits were limited to head and shoulders views, their  handedness  has been determined (as much as possible) through analysis of handwriting or the direction of brush strokes, or even by the shape and location of the thumb holes or paint remnants on surviving palettes.

Gari Melchers painting in his New York Studio
For Gari Melchers, who came of age during the expansion of popular photography in the late 19th century, the question is easy to answer.  Looking at a photo of Gari in his New York studio he is holding his brush in his right hand.

 

 

Portrait of an Artist in Profile, by Fritz Strobentz The Model, by Corinne Melchers

The same is true of two paintings of Gari by other artists.  Fritz Strobentz  painted a young Gari in a Dutch church and his wife Corinne painted him working at Belmont.

 

 

Self-Portrait with Hugo ReisingerThe one image that seems to confuse visitors is the painting currently on loan to Belmont from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, In the Studio, Hugo Reisinger and Gari Melchers.  In this painting, Gari seems to be painting with his left hand.  However, we must realize that he painted himself while looking in a mirror! Thus the orientation is reversed, as it is in all self-portraits painted from life (as opposed to using a photograph, which would show the correct orientation).

Gari Melchers was right handed.

 

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