In early photographic portraits, the position of the hands clearly preoccupies both the model and the photographer. Discreetly resting on his knees or on a book, holding the forehead or chin, one of them slipped into the opening of a jacket: the possibilities are numerous, but the final choice has nothing haphazard about it. When photographers abandon the codified portrait, when they wish to express the personality of the model, they do not forget that after the face, it is the hands that are the most highly individual part of the body. They implore, threaten or pray. They beg, clasp, caress. They serve when dancing, miming, playing the fool...Most importantly, they play an essential role in creating expression.From Disderi to Nadar, Auguste Vacquerie to Alfred Stieglitz, the works selected here are representative of the techniques and practices, whether commercial, artistic or amateur, to have marked photographic production up to the early 20th century. They show anonymous hands, but also those of Nijinsky and of Deburau the mime artist, the countess of Castiglione, George Sand, Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin.