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Da Vinci and the Law of Proportions

Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most famous artists in history, known for his iconic paintings The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Referred to as the “Supreme Genius of the Ages”, it turns out Da Vinci was not only a great artist but also a math whiz.

Da Vinci’s math aptitude truly shines in The Vitruvian Man; this sketch-style work features a man standing inside a circle and square, with accompanying notes describing the Law of Proportions. Da Vinci saw the Law of Proportions as the functional basis of both art and nature. Specifically, Da Vinci believed that arm span will equal height in a perfectly proportioned body, as was first proposed by the architect Vitruvius.[1] Math students who understand the Golden Ratio will see that the Law of Proportions is the same idea basic idea.

Taken at a conceptual level, art scholars view The Vitruvian Man as Da Vinci’s representation of the connection between man and nature, the portrayal of man as a microcosmic unit within the macrocosmic universe.[2] At any rate, it is worthwhile to note the application of math to other disciplines such as music, art, and architecture – and even music, as covered in The Math Music Connection and The Math Behind the Pyramids.

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