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From the author of A brief History of the Smile, a complete index of the digit
In this collision between art and science, history and pop culture, the acclaimed art historian Angus Trumble examines the finger from every possible angle. His inquiries into its representation in art take us from Buddhist statues in Kyoto to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, from cave art to Picasso's Guernica, from Van Dyck's and Rubens's winning ways with gloves to the long-standing French taste for tapering digits. But Trumble also asks intriguing questions about the finger in general: How do fingers work, and why do most of us have five on each hand? Why do we bite our nails?
This witty, odd, and fascinating book is filled with diverse ancedotes about the silent language of gesture, the game of love, the spinning of balls, superstitions relating to severed fingers of thieves, and systems of computation that were used on wharves and in shops, markets, granaries, and warehouses throughout the ancient Roman world. Side by side with historical discussions of rings and gloves and nail polish are meditations on the finger's essential role in writing, speech, sports, crime, law, sex, worship, memory, scratching politely at eighteenth-century French doors (instead of crudely knocking), or merely satisfying an itch—and, of course, in the eponymous show of contempt.
About the author
Angus Trumble was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and is the youngest of four brothers. Formerly Curator of European Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide, and was Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. Angus took up his appointment as Director of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia in February 2014.