Similar to Victor Stabin’s other portraits, The Fairer Hand embodies a personal connection between himself and his firstborn, Skyler. The painting is steeped in art history creating an allegory showing a fathers desire to impart his vocation to his child. In The Fairer Hand, Stabin pays homage to several celebrated artists and other aspects of art history. Skyler sits on a floor splattered with paint, an artist’s studio floor.
Alternatively, it depicts the art of mid-twentieth century painter Jackson Pollock. Skyler’s ABC book is open to a page that exposes the letters P, R, and S, which correspond to the artists Picasso, Rousseau, and Sargent. The abstract painting of a turtle shell leans behind Skyler, Stabin’s homage to 20th-century abstraction. The faint lines that extend a grid over the canvas demonstrate the historical method for recreating existing paintings from a small to larger scale.
The quote, “Children are our immortality; in them, we see the story of our life rewritten in a fairer hand,” by Alfred North Whitehead acts as the basis of the portrait’s title. Stabin hopes to grant his children the freedom and opportunity that will allow them to grow creatively, by imparting his lifetime of artistic experience. This passion is emphasized in his reference to art history and through another element of the painting. At Skyler’s toes, the footprint of a Chuck Taylor Converse sneaker, seen on the studio floor. This juxtaposition mimics Michelangelo’s hand of God reaching out to touch the hand of David. In this manner, Stabin’s footprint encapsulates a father’s will to extend his love, support, and wisdom to his child.
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