The Canons of Beauty in the history of art – the Golden Mean

Is there a mathematical key to beauty? Artists have designed harmonious relationships based on pure geometric forms since time immemorial – some applied the Golden Mean to their figures and their landscapes to create dazzling compositions.

While Polykleitos gets the credit for inventing the Canon – the 4th c. BCE Greek sculptor wrote a true milestone in the history of aesthetics – a treatise (kanon) exemplifying his theories. many other artists through the ages have obsessed over  the numerical perfection of human proportions. Polykleitos devised that the statuary beauty would be the Goldne Mean, and a fine balance of the sculpture’s volumes. Leonardo applied the perfected proportions to many of his works, among which The Mona Lisa – pictured above – and also Leda and the Swan, and famously his Vitruvian Man – not to mention Botticelli’s number-crunching, in his Venus, – see below – for example.

We link to a Wikipedia article on Polykleitos here, and we link to a Wikipedia article on The Aesthetic Canon, here.


We link to a scientific paper on the issue (it’s a PDF)
THE GOLDEN MEAN REVISITED: FROM FIDIA TO THE STRUCTURE OF “KOSMOS”
LORENZI Marcella Giulia, FRANCAVIGLIA Mauro, IOVANE Gerardo,

(via a French-language article on L’Intern@ute that we read about on Artinfo.)

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