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The Finger: A Handbook, By Angus Trumble


At last, a digital handbook that you can actually read and with pleasure. Trumble points out the role of the finger from the Sistine Chapel, where God brings Adam into being with a "not magical so much as military" gesture, to Reynold's sexy portrait of Mrs Abingdon, whose thumbing of her lower lip is "a hint of provocation disguised as the gesture of an ingénue".

The painting of fingers took on a more literal dimension in the Twenties when "durable and highly toxic" fuselage paint evolved into nail varnish. Students at the Yale Centre for British Art, where Trumble is Senior Curator, may be baffled by his inclusion of another form of digital art: "In cricket, the finger also has vital demonstrative function... by which umpires deliver the fateful verdict."