The Hands Resist Him

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He is of the seeing visions
His strokes reveal them
In a rush-of color, of madness
Of mystics
And his head is the highest center
It must confront its enemy,
The hands-resist him,
Like the secret of his birth
His presence is the sanctum heartbeat
Felt in darkness and in passion
Its sound the sole gift to that silence
– R. Ponseti, 1971
Inspired by his childhood photograph that was taken in a Chicago apartment and his ex-wife’s poem, Bill Stoneham created The Hands Resist him in 1972. He opened up an art show in 1974, while in a 2 year contract with Charles Feingarten Gallery and the painting got the most recognition out of all his work. He explained in his website that the little boy represents him, the doll is an imaginary guide and companion, the glass door is the thin veil between waking and dreaming and the hands are other lives.
But in 2000, it gained internet and overall popularity, after a California couple decided to auction it on eBay, when their four and a half daughter claimed to have seen ‘the children fighting each other’ and would ‘come out in the room during the night’. It caused a huge amount of spine-tingling reactions such as, people feeling ill and about to pass out, having strange visitors at night, children crying in horror when seeing the pictures, but some were just too afraid to look at the painting.
Apparently, before it was auctioned, three deaths occurred after its release. Feingarten died in 1981, a Los Angeles Times art critic, Henry Seldis, reviewed his art show and died in 1978. Actor John Marley(The Twilight Zone, The Godfather) purchased the painting at the show, then later sold it before his death in 1984.
I must say, Hands Resist Me is quiet mysterious in its own way.
The first time I saw the painting, my initial thought was, ‘There’s something going on inside this thing. And it’s a very interesting artwork.’ To me, it looks like the little boy had ran away, but he can’t quiet figure out where to go, mostly because trouble follows him everywhere. Then, he came across a toy store with a doll displayed outside, but there’s something unusual about putting a merchandise out in public. So I thought, the store is probably meant to lure children and trap them inside. Note how the doll has empty sockets and kind of squeezing a tube like object. And the hands seem like they are knocking and tapping at the door. Spooky much?
  • What was your initial reaction when you saw the painting?
  • Did it somehow made you feel creeped out?
  • Do you think your perspective or interpretation would change, if you have found the painting before it was popularized as haunted?Yunick Cataytay

Yunick Cataytay

The Hands Resist Him in Bill Stoneham’s website:
Article talking about Stoneham’s life and his painting:
Another article talking about the painting, but with close up photos:
Information about the Ebay auction:

9 thoughts on “The Hands Resist Him

  1. Do you know if anyone has died after writing a blog post about this? My initial reaction is that this is right out of a horror movie. It is a very creepy painting. Mostly because there are no eyes in the doll and the boys eyes are almost nonexistent. Eyes seem to give life to beings. I would certainly not be hanging this in my house. The fact that is is said to be haunted just reinforces my initial take on it. I have a friend with a charcoal drawing with a similar face as the doll and i feel uncomfortable walking past it. It has no eyes but it feels like it is staring at me.

  2. I was impressed but at the same time I felt like these pictures were from some horror movie or from a scary story. It looked very creepy but shows a lot of emotions. It shows how a child is sad and lost and clutching on a doll shows how he needs a guide and some one to rely on.

  3. This painting definitely freaks me. When I first glanced at the picture I thought it was of a little boy standing next to his sister. As I looked closer at her face and arms I realized it was just a doll and it immediately sent chills down my spine. The children’s hands pressed against the door look to me like they are trapped inside and trying to escape. The boy looks evil…almost like a serial killer in the making. Very creepy painting and I don’t doubt that it is haunted.

  4. the first frame I saw was the close up of the boy’s face and I’m thinking to myself “Oh hey its Jeorge W. Bush”, but then I read about it. The doll and its hollow eyes and the mouth look like they are straight out of a horror movie, very scary. The art piece as a whole is very scary when you look at it for a while, there is the creepy doll with its hollow eyes and the boy has no expression on his face, the night and the moon outside. It is very creepy. If I found this before this was popular or I read about it, I would still think twice or three times before I decide to hang it in my house. It is just a scary composition.

  5. My initial thought about this painting was “freaky” I gotta say before reading your blog I had a feeling there was going to a unpleasant but interesting story behind it. What I found most interesting was that the children started crying in horror when the looked at the paintings and that they could not even look at the painting. Did they explain why? I am believer of science. Maybe it was making them uncomfortable psychologically giving them a unpleasant thoughts.

    • I wonder the same thing. But none of the sites that I looked into explained why and the ebay auction has been deleted after it ended. And I agree with you on that last part.

  6. The painting definitely has an off-putting feeling with it. It almost seems like it would make a great poster for a movie called “Dolls: The Reckoning” or something along those lines where creepy eyeless dolls come to life and attack people. The history and deaths afterwards add to the eerie feeling you get from looking at it. Also, the hands behind that almost have a Walking Dead type of feeling of kids/adults that are trapped inside this dark store wanting to get out. One thing that stands out to me in this however, is if you put took the painting of the boy and moved him into a different background, you’d likely think nothing of it. He appears lifelike and very normal looking. He appears to be squinting into the sun or a bright light. I think the rest of the painting is really what gives it that “have fun with your nightmares tonight” vibe to it.

  7. My initial reaction was an eerie sense of calmness. It definitely has a prominent aspect of creepiness since the girl is clearly some type of doll/robot while possessing qualities of a living person. I was unaware that this painting was considered haunted before I found out it was haunted, so my perspective on this painting would not change.

  8. Upon first looking at this painting, I thought it was a picture of a little boy and his younger sister from 30’s or something.Then as I looked and focused, I saw that the “sister” was a creepy doll. The young boy also had a face of a man in my opinion. That was weird but then seeing the hands in the shop made it even more creepy. Art like this is intriguing because well its against the norm. Honestly my Perspective wouldn’t change, because I was creeped out by the hands and the doll before I even read your blog. Though Stonehams explanation that the doll was a guide and the window represented a veil while the hands were other lives, kinda scared me.

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