Since I started studying art in 8th grade, paintings, early photographs, and other 19th century portraits often depict men with one hand placed inside their jacket or vest-- though not in the pocket, but more often it looks like they’re just sticking their hand in between the buttons. (Think Napoleon-style portraits). I have been unable to find any explinations WHY this was considered a stylish way of posing. Any ideas?
Disclaimer: This is complete conjecture on my part.
OK, so you’ve got a guy and you want him to look a little more interesting than just with his hands at his sides. Putting your hands in vest or jacket pockets is no good. Pictures took a long time to develop and the pose had to be held, so the space in the jacket provided support for an otherwise flagging arm.
I think it was a common pose because you’d see it on grand portraits, like Napoleon’s.
Why he did it, was probably more practical. A lot of soldiers did that so they could keep a hand warm without wearing gloves. You often need an ungloved hand in battle, to do things like reload.
I have this from notes from a course I attended, but it is not further referenced.
The course was by Dr Wolf Wolfensberger who teaches on Normalization in Mental Retardation and uses examples of mimicking behaviour:
‘All phenomena of mass hysteria involve elements of imitation dynamics. So to do the phenomena of phases and fads. After Napoleon’s rise to power, generals all over the world, began to imitate Napoleon by sticking a hand inside the front of the coats or jackets. They did this even if they would not have supported or allied themselves with Napoleon when he was alive, but because they envied him his skills and generalship, and because by doing so, they were also imitating all their other higher officers. Since few of these officers had ever met Napoleon, they learned it all via facsimiles.’
I am not sure of his sources for this information.