Importance of the hand in a coquette’s art


from Pierre de Marivaux, La Vie de Marianne, ou les aventures de la comtesse de *** :

“[W]ith the prettiest Looks in the World, you are no more than pretty, and do but barely please. But add to your Charms a fine Hand besides, as I told you jut now, and no Man alive can withstand it, and you charm the whole Sex.

How many Hearts have I seen refusing a Surrender to the finest Eyes, who never had been subdued without the Help I am speaking of?

Let a Woman be even ugly, ’tis no great Matter, if she has but a fine Hand. There are Thousands of Men more affected by that Article of Beauty than by the handsomest Face. but shall I tell you the Reason? Indeed I believe I have hit on it.

It is because an handsome Face is no Nudity, but ordinarily discovered. Let it be ever so charming, our Eyes still desire something else. But a fine Hand is in some sort an advance towards Nakedness. And there is a kind of Men, whom you fix at least as surely by tempting as by pleasing them. There Taste, as you see, is none of the best; nevertheless it is generally the most encouraged by Women, and in particular by Coquettes.”

(quoted from an English translation published in 1743 in London)

This makes me think twice about my bare hands… ahem

Above, a college of those sexy, irresistible hands from François Boucher’s paintings

Clockwise from top left:
Madame Bergeret, 1766, National Gallery of Art
Are They Thinking about the Grape? 1747, Art Institute of Chicago
Madame de Pompadour at Her Toilette, 1758, Fogg Art Museum
The Love Letter, 1750, National Gallery of Art

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