Why did Napoleon Bonaparte stick his hand in his shirt?

Why did Napoleon Bonaparte stick his hand in his shirt?

Is there any factual answer to this or is it just something that no one really knows?

Probably for the same reasonGeorge Washington did: it was just a popular portrait convention of the time, and wasn’t special to Napoleon.

Explanation I heard somewhere: because its time consuming to paint hands, so artists often painted people with one hand hidden in some fashion. Tucked in a coat was popular.

First of all, that’s his waistcoat, not his shirt; second, it was a common pose at the time, and is similar in principle to poses dating back to ancient Greece. Exposing the hands was apparently considered somewhat crude or immodest, so one hand would be painted down at the side, often behind the back or draped by a cape or robe, and the other would be posed with an object or tucked into the coat or waistcoat (or what have you).

Because when it was painted Napoleon was between military campaigns and he wanted to rest his armies?

Well, you have to do *something *with your hands. Would you have preferred that he make aJapanese-style V-sign?

It’s a masonic gesture

Nec ullo spectaculi genere communior aut remissior erat, adeo ut oblatos victoribus aureos prolata sinistra pariter cum vulgo voce digitisque numeraret ac saepe hortando rogandoque ad hilaritatem homines provocaret, dominos identidem appellans, immixtis interdum frigidis et arcessitis iocis; qualis est ut cum Palumbum postulantibus daturum se promisit, si captus esset.
“Claudius never behaved less formally than at these picnics - exposing his left hand in plebeian fashion when he distributed prizes, instead of keeping it decently covered by his gown, and counting the number of gold pieces on his fingers - ‘One, two, three…’ he would shout …” Suetonius, Divus Claudius xxi, 4 (Graves’s translation)

. . . to me, anyway. You know how so many women in Tudor and Elizabethan portraits stand like this:


I always thought that was just a convention of the time. Then in college I had to spend a whole day in a complete Tudor dress–wooden busk corset and all–to exhibit to the costume classes. I realized I was standing that way, too–the sleeves were heavy, and the most comfortable way to stand was to lean back slightly, clasp your hands, and rest them against your hip-roll in front! It also showed off the nice sleeve work.

I think there was a thread about that here, because I remember that too.

It’s a very comfortable place to put your hand. I’ve found myself more than once sitting with my hand in my shirt when I’m wearing a button down shirt at home.

And then there’s Al Bundy.

Almost got me there.

oh oh ow ow oh.

I like.

Here’s a faq entry on this from a website dedicated to Napolean: http://www.napoleon-series.org/faq/c_hand.html

The false etymologies always get to me, because they show a lack of understanding about how painting works. Yes, hands are difficult, but if you’re a master painter, you would want to be sure to paint hands to show how good you are. And paintings are not photographs - you aren’t capturing someone mid-itch; you’re having them pose, or quite possibly not having them pose depending on the skill of the painter; and the painter chooses what the subject is doing. While he (or she) is at it, the painter can make the subject look better; in classical portraiture, the painter is going to make the subject look as good as possible (who do you think is paying?)

One explanation I read somewhere, and very likely absurd, is that he had an intestinal disorder and often pressed with his hand against his innards to relieve the pain.

Hey, at least it’s creative.

An (equally false) explanation I’ve heard is that he had terrible eczema which made his hands ugly to look at.

I know… Let’s wildly speculate as to the reason. Here’s mine:

He stole a tennis bracelet that once belonged to Eleanor of Aquitane and had to hide it whenever the paparazzi jumped out of the bushes to paint his picture.

I read something similar, only it was because he had some kind of chronic pain condition and he often clenched his fist due to the pain.

To get to the other side