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The Finger A Handbook by Angus Trumble


The Finger A Handbook by Angus Trumble

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' winning ways with gloves to the longstanding 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 anecdotes about cow-milking, the fingerprint of a grave robber in King Tut's tomb and a woman in Trumble's local bank whose immensely long, coiled fingernails do not prevent her from signing a check. Side by side with historical discussions of rings and gloves and nail varnish are meditations on the finger's essential role in writing, speech, sports, crime, law, sex and, of course, the eponymous show of contempt.


This is the sort of exuberant nonfiction in which you learn something surprising on every page, and not only does Trumble amass a great wealth of finger facts, his interpretations are deft and pleasing in their acuity, and his delight in the entire endeavour is contagious. (Donna Seaman)

About the Author

Angus Trumble is a graduate of the University of Melbourne, and of New York University's Institute of Fine Arts, where he was a Fulbright Scholar in 1994-95. Since 2003 he has been Senior Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Book Info

Publication date

9th September 2011


Angus Trumble

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Yale University Press


256 pages


Human figures depicted in art
Social & cultural history



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