Portrait of a Thrice-thumbed Man
Pen and ink, 8 x 6 inches, 2003
Polydactylism, having one or more extra fingers or toes, is a fairly common anomaly,
but one I've always found fascinating. How strange that the some genetic fluke should cause
the duplication of a finger or a toe. As mutations go, this is certainly one of the least
disfiguring and may even have potential benefits. Properly trained and utilized,
those extras digits could play complicated piano sonatas, perform intricate card tricks, or
throw a mean curve ball. But these days, extra digits are routinely removed
in infancy, thereby depriving glovemakers of special commissions.
This portrait was inspired by a photograph of an unknown fellow
who was described only as “the best cotton picker around,” which though
mundane must have been a source of pride.
The setting was inspired by the gesture of the sitter in Petrus Christus's
1446 portrait of Edward Grimston.
All Images and Text © James G. Mundie 2003 - 2010