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A Brief History of the Smile


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About the Author

Angus Trumble has worked for Christie's in New York, and has been curator of European Paintings and Sculpture at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide. He is currently the Curator for Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale Center for British Arts. He has written six books.


Chronicling something as ephemeral as a smile can be a tricky thing. For art historian Trumble, the task at first seemed simple: How has the smile been depicted in art through the ages? The search was less than easy, however, and certain smiles-such as the open-mouth, full-toothed smile-were difficult to locate. In this genial exploration of the depicted smile, Trumble touches on such topics as the meaning of the smile in different cultures, the use of lipstick and tooth-dyeing, and the relationship between smiling and laughing. In an art historical mode, Trumble traces the changing meaning of a smile through ages, media, and cultures. Among the meanings explicated are lewdness, desire, mirth, wisdom, deceit, and even, perhaps, happiness. The primary focus of the book is Western art of the last millennium, including such examples as the Mona Lisa, Franz Hals's The Laughing Cavalier, the works of Ingres and Hogarth, the Cheshire Cat, and the "Smiley Face." However, there are excursions into the world of early Greek and Asian art. This work makes an interesting bookend to James Elkins's Pictures and Tears and is suitable for comprehensive public and special collections.-Martin R. Kalfatovic, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"'Satisfyingly rich, consistently surprising and gloriously irreverent'. The Daily Telegraph 'A beautifully written book'. New Scientist 'Thanks to Trumble's curiosity, breadth of knowledge and naughty sense of humour, the overall effect is delightful'. Psychology Today"

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