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Cost an arm and a leg

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on June 19, 2007

In Reply to: Cost an arm and a leg posted by Bruce Kahl on June 19, 2007

: : I have heard that the phrase "cost an arm and a leg" derived from the cost of portraits in the colonial days. Painters would charge more according to how many limbs (arms or legs) were in the painting. Could you clarify?

: See link below.

This story is nonsense. Jobbing 18th-century portrait painters offered a repertoire of stock formats (head and shoulders, half length, full length), and poses (standing, walking, sitting, etc) and clients were charged by format and by size. The number of limbs was never an issue. (VSD)