‘Epidemic’ of hand deformities in the French Renaissance paintings of Jean and François Clouet

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Abstract

This article analyses the nature of the multiple finger anomalies found in portraits by the French Renaissance artistic dynasty, the Clouets. The multiplicity of finger anomalies could be either innocent congenital variants, or pathological and traumatic deformities. In view of the presence of such `beautifying variations' in the works of other Renaissance artists, the authors decided that these features were not the result of an epidemic of deformities, but instead represented a stylistic approach in paintings of this period at the French Court.

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