Hand In Pocket: Body Language Basics

what does hand inside coat mean

The hand-in-coat pose, also known as the hand-in-waistcoat or hand-in-vest, has been observed in portraits and photographs of notable men from the 18th and 19th centuries. This pose typically involves the subject standing or sitting with one hand tucked into the front of their jacket or vest, giving the impression of stateliness and calmness. The tradition of this pose dates back to ancient Greece, where it was considered disrespectful to speak with hands outside of one's clothing. This pose was later adopted by artists in the 18th century, who sought to convey nobility and restraint through their subjects' body language. The pose continued to be popular in the early 19th century with the advent of photography, though its prevalence began to wane towards the end of the century.

Characteristics Values
Era 18th and 19th centuries
Who Notable men, including Napoleon Bonaparte, Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx, Simon Bolivar, US President Franklin Pierce, and Thomas Hudson
Attire Coats, jackets, waistcoats, vests, tunics
Pose Standing or sitting
Hand Right hand, left hand
Significance Leadership, calmness, firmness, stateliness, nobility, good manners, Masonic code, ancient Greek tradition, Freemasonry, naturalness, modesty, restraint, boldness, power, fashion, gentlemanliness, dignity, humility, false humility, Masonic membership, Masonic rituals, Masonic philosophy and beliefs, covert nature of Freemasonry, Masonic symbol, Masonic sign, Masonic salute
Purpose Prevent blurring, keep hands still, conceal wallet, conceal stomach pains, follow tradition, convey noble and calm behaviour, convey good education, convey boldness tempered with modesty, convey appearance in a manner considered agreeable and without affectation, convey natural, modest, and restrained image, convey English national character, convey modesty and restraint, convey aura of refinement and boldness, convey Masonic salute

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The pose dates back to ancient Greece, where it was considered rude to speak with your hands outside your clothes

The pose of holding one hand inside one's coat has been observed in portraits and photographs of notable men from the 18th and 19th centuries. The pose is thought to have originated in ancient Greece, where it was considered rude to speak with your hands outside your clothes.

> 'And so decent were those public men of antiquity, Pericles [495-429 BC], Themistocles [524-459 BC], and Aristeides [530-468 BC] ), that talking with the arm outside the cloak, as we all do today as a matter of course, was then considered ill-mannered, and they carefully refrained from doing so. And I can point to a piece of evidence that seems to me to be very heavy and tangible. I am sure that you all sailed to Salamis and saw the statue of Solon [638-558 BC] there. So you can testify for yourselves that the statue standing in the Salaminian market square shows Solon with his arm in his cloak. This is a reminder, fellow citizens, and an imitation of the attitude of Solon, showing his usual posture as he addressed the people of Athens.'

Sculptures from the sixth century BC depict famous orators such as Solon with their hands inside their dressing gowns, reinforcing the notion that this pose was considered appropriate and respectable in ancient Greek society.

The pose carried over into classical antiquity and was adopted by artists in the 18th century, who sought inspiration from the statues of famous Greek and Roman orators. Portraitists began to depict their subjects in similar poses, conveying an image of nobility, calmness, and good education. It became particularly popular in 18th-century British portraiture as a sign of upper-class status. An early 18th-century guide on "genteel behaviour" described the pose as denoting "manly boldness tempered with modesty."

The pose also took on a symbolic meaning in the post-Restoration period, promoting "a natural, modest, and restrained image sanctioned by a classical precedent" in contrast to "the exuberant gestures of the French rhetorical style with its Catholic and absolutist associations." This interpretation contributed to its popularity among the English ruling class, who embraced it as a way to convey their status and adherence to classical ideals.

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It was popularised in the 18th century by artists who looked to ancient Greek and Roman statues for inspiration

The "hand-in-coat" pose, also known as the "hand-in-waistcoat", was popularised in the 18th century by artists who looked to ancient Greek and Roman statues for inspiration. The pose can be traced back to classical times, with the founder of a rhetoric school, Aeschines, suggesting that speaking with an arm outside one's chiton was bad manners. In an 18th-century guide on "genteel behaviour", the pose was said to denote "manly boldness tempered with modesty".

In the 18th century, artists began to look to classical orators and the poses used in ancient sculptures for inspiration. The "hand-in-coat" pose was soon adopted to convey that the model was both "good-humoured and a suitably exalted character". The pose became popular among the English ruling class as it was thought to convey one's appearance "in a manner considered agreeable and without affectation".

The pose was also used in 18th-century British portraiture as a sign that the sitter was from the upper class. It was believed to convey noble, calm behaviour and a good education. The "hand-in-coat" pose was also used to indicate leadership in a calm and firm manner. It was copied by portrait painters across Europe and America, and was often seen in mid-19th-century photography.

Ancient Greek art stands out for its development of naturalistic but idealised depictions of the human body, with largely nude male figures as the focus of innovation. Greek artists captured the human form in a way that had never been seen before, with a particular concern for proportion, poise, and the idealised perfection of the human body. Greek sculpture evolved into a uniquely Greek vision of the art form, heavily influenced by Egyptian and Near Eastern monumental art.

The earliest large stone figures, kouroi (nude male youths) and kore (clothed female figures), were rigid, with their arms held straight at their sides, feet almost together, and their eyes staring blankly ahead. Over time, the figures became more dynamic, with arms slightly bent to give them muscular tension, and one leg placed slightly forward to suggest movement. By 500 BCE, Greek sculptors were breaking away from the rigid rules of Archaic conceptual art and reproducing what they observed in real life.

In the Classical period, Greek sculptors broke free from convention, creating life-size and life-like sculptures that glorified the human form, particularly the nude male body. Marble was a wonderful medium for rendering the intricacies of the human form, with figures appearing frozen in action, as if they were alive just a second ago.

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The pose conveys a calm, noble, and stately demeanour

The pose of a hand tucked into a jacket or waistcoat has been observed in portraits and photographs of notable men from the 18th and 19th centuries. This distinctive pose conveys a calm, noble, and stately demeanour.

The tradition of keeping one hand tucked into the front of one's jacket dates back to ancient Greece, where it was considered disrespectful to speak with your hands outside of your clothing. This belief carried on into the 18th century, where artists began to look to antiquity for inspiration. The pose was used in 18th-century British portraits as a sign that the sitter was from the upper class. It conveyed "manly boldness tempered with modesty", as noted in Francois Nivelon's 1738 book, *The Rudiments of Genteel Behaviour*. The pose was also thought to promote "a natural, modest, and reticent image that was sanctioned by classical precedent", in contrast to the more exuberant gestures of the French rhetorical style.

The pose became particularly associated with Napoleon Bonaparte, due to its use in several portraits by his artist, Jacques-Louis David. It was also used in portraits of other historical figures, including Mozart, George Washington, Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx, and Simon Bolivar. The popularity of the pose may have been due to the belief that it conveyed noble and calm behaviour, but practical considerations may also have played a role. For example, it may have helped to keep the subject's hand still during the long exposure times required for early photography, or it may have been a way to keep the hand warm.

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It was used as a secret Masonic gesture

The "hand-in-coat" pose, common in portraits from the 18th and 19th centuries, has been linked to Freemasonry, with many Masons depicted in this stance. However, it is not exclusively a Masonic gesture, and there are several alternative explanations for its popularity.

Firstly, it is worth noting that the pose is not unique to Freemasonry, and there are many portraits of non-Masons adopting this stance. Secondly, Freemasonry is a secret society that operates covertly, with traditions passed down orally, so it is challenging to confirm the gesture's Masonic association definitively.

That said, there is a supposed Masonic gesture where the right hand is placed inside the coat or shirt, resembling the "hand-in-coat" pose. This gesture may have Masonic connotations, but it is essential to remember that not everyone depicted in this way is necessarily a Mason or copying a Mason.

The "hand-in-coat" pose has been suggested to have other valid explanations. It may have been used to make the subject appear more stately, civilised, or calm, conveying noble manners and a good education. This pose was also practical for long portrait sittings, as it provided a stable and relaxed position for the hands.

The tradition of placing the hand inside the coat actually dates back much further than the 18th century. In ancient Greece, some social circles considered it disrespectful to speak with hands outside of one's clothes. As a result, statues from the 6th century BC often depicted famous orators such as Solon with their hands tucked into their cloaks.

In the 18th century, artists began to draw inspiration from classical antiquity, reviving the "hand-in-coat" pose. This pose became a standard element in portraits, particularly those of the upper class, as it signified "manly boldness tempered with modesty."

In summary, while the "hand-in-coat" pose may have been used as a secret Masonic gesture, it is important to note that it also had broader cultural significance and practical considerations in portraiture.

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It was a practical solution to long exposure times in early photography

The hand-in-waistcoat pose, also known as hand-inside-vest, hand-in-jacket, hand-held-in, or hidden hand, was a common gesture in portraiture during the 18th and 19th centuries. The pose was used to indicate leadership in a calm and firm manner and was associated with the upper class. With the advent of photography in the early 19th century, this pose continued to be used, perhaps as a practical solution to the long exposure times required in early photography.

Early photographs required long exposure times, sometimes up to several hours, due to the low sensitivity of the plate. This made it challenging to capture moving subjects, and even stationary objects could become blurry if conditions changed during the exposure time. The hand-in-waistcoat pose may have been a solution to this issue, as it kept the sitter's hand in a single place, reducing the likelihood of blurring in the final image.

The pose also had other advantages. In an era when hands were considered challenging to paint or photograph accurately, keeping the hand inside the coat ensured that it remained still and was not visible in the final image. Additionally, the pose may have been seen as a way to maintain a stately and dignified appearance, as hands in pockets were often not allowed or considered improper.

The hand-in-waistcoat pose can be seen in photographs of notable individuals such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Franklin Pierce, Joseph Stalin, and Karl Marx. It is also commonly found in photographs of members of the military, including several images from the American Civil War.

While the exact reasons for the pose may vary, it is clear that the hand-in-waistcoat gesture was a practical solution to the technical limitations of early photography, helping to create sharper and more dignified portraits during a time when long exposure times were the norm.

Frequently asked questions

The pose can be traced back to classical times. In ancient Greece, it was considered disrespectful to speak with your hands outside your clothes. Thus, statues from the 6th century BC showed celebrated orators such as Solon with their hands tucked into their cloaks. In the 18th century, artists began to use this pose to convey a noble, calm demeanour and good manners.

There is no proof that the pose is a Masonic code. However, the hand gesture is said to be inspired by Exodus in the Bible, where the heart represents what one is and the hand what one does. It can be interpreted as: what we are is what we do.

No, it is not.

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