The Golden Section in Painting

Investigating the composition structures of paintings, the masterpieces of the world fine arts, the art critics paid attention to the fact, that in the landscape paintings the law of the golden section is used widely. The painting by the Russian artist Shishkin "The Ship Grove" is the example of this.

Shishkin 'The Ship Grove'

The motives of the golden section are viewed on this famous painting with evidence. The pine staying on the foreground and lightening brightly by the Sun divides the painting by the golden section in the horizontal direction. The hillock lighted by the Sun is to the right about the pine. It divides the painting by the golden section in the vertical direction. To the left of the main pine we can see many pines; at desire it is possible to continue divisions of the left-hand part of the painting by the golden section in the horizontal direction. The availability in the painting of bright verticals and horizontals dividing it by the golden section gives to the painting a nature of counterbalance and calmness pursuant to the artist intention.

We can see the same principle in Repin's painting "Pushkin at the Lyceum act of January 8, 1815".

Repin 'Pushkin at the Lyceum act of January 8, 1815'

Pushkin's figure is placed by the artist in the right part of the painting on the golden section line. The left-hand part of the painting, in turn, is divided too in the golden section: from Pushkin's head up to Derjavin's head and from it up to the left-hand painting edge. The distance from Drjavin's head up to the right painting edge is divided into two equal parts by the golden section line passing along Pushkin's figure.

The painting of the Russian artist Ge "Pushkin in Michailovsky's village" is one more example of the effective usage of the golden section.

Ge 'Pushkin in Michailovsky's village'

In this painting Pushkin's figure also is put by the artist at the left along of the golden section line. The composition construction of the painting is similar to Repin's painting. The head of the military man hearing the poet with delight is on other golden section vertical.

The talented Russian artist Konstantin Vasiljev, who leaved from life very early, used widely the golden section in his creativity. Being the student of the Kazan art school, he heard for the first time about the golden section. And since then, starting each his painting he always started that mentally he attempted to determine on the canvas that main point, where all subject lines of the painting should be tightened, as to an invisible magnet. His painting "Near to the window" is the brightest example of the painting based on the golden section.

About what the artist wanted to tell us in this painting? It is possible only to guess about this. But one thing is indisputable: we see the life as it is. That two these young people love infinitely one another, we understand at the first view on the painting. But if the young man is in a power of his uncontrollable gust and is ready to defend his love before everybody, girl's feelings are restrained by something. What is the reason of her restraint, a fear, a pride, a fidelity to the tribal traditions? And possibly, an inspiration, a natural intuition more appropriated to female heart suggest her what it is not time now to think about the love?

Konstantin Vasiljev 'Near to the window'

Anyway, the main thought of this painting, all its culmination are in girl's image whose face is lighted up by surprising purity, by dignity and more by quiet wisdom. And the artist places girl's face in the "golden" point of the painting, which is on intersection of two "golden" lines, horizontal and vertical, which pass exactly through the girl eye. And this composition solution is one of the causes of sensation of surprising harmony, which we feel looking this painting.

And more about one composition method used widely by the artists of the Renaissance epoch. The question is about usage of "phyllotaxis" lattices by the artists. We already told about the surprising botanic "phyllotaxis", pursuant to which the nature constructs pinecones, pineapples, head of sunflower, cactuses and many other botanic objects.

Let's consider such botanic object as the cactus. Pursuant to the "phyllotaxis" laws the cactus areoles (the concentrations of thorns) are placed on spirals, and a number of the left-hand and right-spirals for the cactus are the next Fibonacci numbers of 21 and 34. If now we look on the same cactus from outside we can see that the spirals on the rather small surface segment look as straight lines going by diagonal top-down and from the left to the right or bottom-up and from the right to the left. On the picture below it is well visible that the straight lines going in the right direction have a smaller slope than the straight lines going in the left-hand direction. Thus, Fibonacci relation connects a number of the right- and left-hand diagonals. Really on the picture below it is visible clearly that in the beginning approximately two diagonals with the right-hand slope corresponds to three diagonals with the left-hand slope (2:3), then three right-hand diagonals correspond to five left-hand one's (3:5), etc.

The cactus surface

The geometrical model of the cactus considered above is presented below by using the raster lattice, in which the slanting lines (with the right- and left-hand slopes) model the principle of the areoles arrangement on the cactus surface.

The geometrical model of the cactus

If now to present the cactus reamer on the plane we get the similar raster lattice, in which we have 21 lines with the right-hand slope and 34 lines with the left-hand slope. The "phyllotaxix" raster lattice in aesthetic sense is appeared so optimal, as well as the "golden" rectangle. The complex of the lines having a quite definite and at the same time different slope gives to the picture field the emotional internal straining and simultaneously the stringent counterbalance. These principles of the composition construction of art works are inherent in many paintings of the outstanding artists.

The Austrian scientist Paturi, the author of the remarkable book "The plants as ingenious engineers of the nature" made the analysis of the raster lattices usage in the painting works of the great artists. For this purpose he combined the raster lattice with the reproduction of Tizian's painting "Vakch and Ariadna".

The analysis of Tizian's painting 'Vakch and Ariadna' by the raster lattices

The analysis of the painting brought Paturi into the following conclusion:

"All basic lines of the perspective coincide with the raster lattice. Even the set of the minor parts and forms were placed by the artist in that field of internal straining, on which the painting is constructed. Pay your attention to the small hill seen on the horizon in the right-hand part near to the church campanile, on the branches of the large tree, on the outline of the cumulus lying under the constellation, on the back foots and the belly line of the large wild grapnel, on the direction of the turned over vase axis, on the raised right hand of the satire in the garland from grapevines in the right corner of the canvas and, at last, on the raised leg of the horse".

And further Paturi makes the following relevant conclusion:

"In all times the artists, consciously or unconsciously, studied to comprehend the laws of aesthetic perception by watching the nature. The artists were enchanted always by the simple and simultaneously rational geometry of the biological forms growth".