Chagall: Two Left Hands?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
As an undergrad at Baylor University back in the latter 70s, I didn't know much about art, but I somehow acquired a poster of Chagall's Pinch of Snuff (also known as The Rabbi), though I didn't know the title back then. I called it "Rabbi with a Book." I liked it a lot and so taped it to the wall of my room, where I stared at it for hours, all told. There was some uncanny quality it possessed, and I took a long time in realizing what that "it" was. Eventually, however, I was drawn to focus on the rabbi's right hand, which seemed awkward, twisted in some way, until I saw that this right hand was another left hand.
I know from German that "zwei linke Hände haben" (to have two left hands) means "to be all thumbs," that is, "to be clumsy," but I don't know if this idiom is relevant here.
Incidentally, Chagall seems to have made at least two variants of this painting, for I've seen one of them with my own eyes at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, dated 1923-26, whereas the one above, dated to 1912, is displayed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. My poster's version was more like the variant in Basel. The Hebrew letters on the Torah scroll curtain differ, incidentally, the older painting displaying the abbreviation for God's name and the more recent painting displaying letters standing for "Torah Scroll," according to Benjamin Harshav in The Polyphony of Jewish Culture (2007).
Anyway, all the versions I've found online share this same uncanniness because of the two left hands. Does any reader know why Chagall did this?
I've searched long on the net failing to find any clue . . .