Art and Those Pesky Hands and Feet

Some doctors got themselves all in a hubbub over finding what they believe is nearly incontrovertable evidence that Raphael used polydactyl models.

Below is a detail from Raphael’s La Belle Jardinere. Doctors say the infant shows polydactylism.

I think artists call this foreshortening. And with some people that part of the foot sticks out more when standing than the pinky toe.

This is all remarkably like when celeb blogs go on about Ophrah’s sixth toe (non existent) or Kate Hudson’s sixth toe but as you can see she does not have six toes.

But physicians get extra credibility by discussing in terms like postaxial polydactyly of type A and hypothesizing on Raphael recruiting models from families who exhibit this autosomal dominant trait with variable expressivity.

Some physicians also claimed that the Pope’s right hand, in Raphael’s La Madonna Sistina, shows six fingers.

I think artists call this sixth finger the palm of the hand.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

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