The idea of harmony in the Renaissance epoch

Downfall of the Greek culture in the last centuries BC and elevation of Rome with its reorientation on great-power attributes of a state policy resulted that the idea of harmony left in past and in the final analysis was forgot. After the Rome dip Byzantium becomes the World cultural center, but the area of its interests is concentrated already on other systems of values, connected mainly with philosophy and religious doctrine of Christianity. The Byzantium confessants arisen on the ruins of the Ancient Greek civilization was a peculiar transmitted link between the antiquity and Renaissance epoch.

The Renaissance epoch in a history of culture of the Western and Central Europe countries is the transient epoch from the medieval culture to the culture of new time. The most typical feature of this epoch is the humanistic world outlook and reversal to the antique cultural heritage, as though the "Renaissance" of the ancient art. The Renaissance epoch is marked by large scientific shifts to the field of natural sciences. A specific feature of science of this epoch was a close connection with art, and this peculiarity is expressed sometimes in creativity of some persons of the Renaissance epoch. Leonardo da Vince, artist, scientific, engineer, was the brightest example of such "multilateral" person.

Together with other achievements of the ancient art the scientists and the artists of the Renaissance epoch perceived the Pythagorean idea of the Universe harmony and the golden section with a huge enthusiasm. And it is not incidentally that just Leonardo da Vince who was one of the brightest persons of the Renaissance epoch introduced in wide use the name of the "golden section", which at once became as the aesthetic canon of the Renaissance epoch.

The idea of harmony appeared among those conceptual ideas of the ancient art, to which the church treated with a large interest. According to the Christian doctrine the Universe is God's creation and therefore is subjected implicitly to his will. And at the creation of the Universe the Christian God was guided by the mathematical principles. This catholic doctrine in science and art of the Renaissance epoch gained the form of searching of the mathematical schedule used by the God at the creation of the Universe.

Belief in the fact that the nature is created according to the mathematical schedule and that the God is the creator of harmony is expressed during this period not only by scientists, but also by poets, and also by art representatives. English poet and statesman Josef Edison expressed this idea in the following poetic strings:

Boundless cup's depth,
Blue ethereal skies,
An infinite round dance of asters
Sings Praise to the Creator.
By his powerful right hand
The god manages by the Sun chariot,
And the light flies to all edges,
Creating Praise to the Highest God.
A Crown of rotating planets
Is his creation, the Creator
Being full by that message,
Waves roll on oceans.

In opinion of the modern American historian of mathematics Moris Klain, just the close union of the religious doctrine about the God as the creator of the Universe and the antique idea about numerical harmony of Universe became one of the major causes of huge cultural splash in the Renaissance epoch. Brightly the main purpose of the Renaissance epoch science is expressed in the following Kepler's words:

"The main purpose of all researches of the external world should be discovering of the rational order and harmony sent by the God to the World and expressed by him by using mathematics language".

The same idea, the idea of the Universe harmony, the expression of its orderliness and perfection is transformed into the main idea of the Renaissance art. In works by Bramante, Leonardo da Vince, Rafael, Jordano, Tizian, Alberti, Donatello, Michelangelo it is shown the strong orderness and harmony subordinated to the golden proportion. The law of harmony, law of a number are uncovered in the art works and scientific-methodical researches by Leonardo da Vince, Durer, Alberti.

In the famous portrait of Mona Lisa ("Jokonda"), which was completed by Leonardo da Vince in 1503, the image of rich townswoman is presented as implementation of a raised feminist ideal, not losing thus of intimate-human charm (the famous "Jokonda's smile"); a relevant composition element becomes the cosmically vast landscape running in the cold mist. The picture of the ingenious artist attracted attention of the researchers and they found out that the composition construction of the picture is based on the two "golden" triangles, which are the parts of the "pentagram".

The portrait of Mona Lisa ('Jokonda')

The wide usage of the "golden" spiral is characteristic for the art works by Rafael, Michelangelo and other Italian artists. The multi-figured composition "Beating of infants" pictured by Rafael in 1509-1510 differs by dynamism and drama of a subject. On the preparatory Rafael's draft it is draw the smoothly varying line encompassing all picture. The line starts in semantic center of the composition, that is, in the point where the soldier fingers are closed around of the child ankle, and further the line goes along the figures of the child, of the woman pining him to herself, of the soldier with the sword and then along the figures of the same group in the right part of the draft. If we connect in natural mode all these pieces of the curve by the dotted line, we can get the "golden" spiral!

The 'golden' spiral in Rafael's picture 'Beating of infants'
The "golden" spiral in Rafael's picture "Beating of infants".

In the period of the Italian Renaissance the researches in the field of the proportionality theory of sculpture and architecture works are continued. In this period in Italy the works of the famous Roman architect Vitruvij were reissued and they rendered a certain influence on the works of the Italian art theorists (Alberti). By arising in Florence, the classic style of the High Renaissance created the sculpture and architecture monuments in Rome, Venice and other cultural centers of Italy.

Apart from the artists, architects and sculptures of this epoch all musical culture develops under strong influence of the antique harmony ideas. In this period the known philosopher, physicist and mathematician Mersenn introduces in music the 12-sound musical system. In some of his works ("Tractate about the Overall Harmony", "The Overall Harmony") Mersenn considers the music as the integral part of mathematics and sees in it and in its consonance sounding one of the main ways of the global harmony and beauty development.

Just in this period the first book dedicated to the "golden section" appears. The famous Italian mathematician and learned monk Luca Pachioli is the writer of the book. But we will tell about him in the next page of our Museum. Follow us!