Da Vincis Vitruvian Man

Activity: Golden Ratio

Using The Golden Ratio

Discover the ways Leonardo used the Golden Ratio in some of his most famous works of art.

Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man

Leonardo's Inspiration

Da Vinci created the illustrations for “De Divina Proportione” (On the Divine Proportion), a book about mathematics written by Luca Pacioli around 1498 and first published in 1509.

In the book, Pacioli writes about mathematical and artistic proportion, particularly the mathematics of the golden ratio and its application in art and architecture. The book contains dozens of beautiful illustrations of three-dimensional geometric solids and templates for script letters in calligraphy.

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What is the golden ratio?

The golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion, is a special number (equal to about 1.618) that appears many times in geometry, art, an architecture. The golden ratio is found when a line is divided into two parts such that the whole length of the line divided by the long part of the line is also equal to the long part of the line divided by the short part of the line.

Some shapes, such as dodecahedrons and icosahedrons, have inherent golden ratios in their dimensions and spatial positions of their intersecting lines. Some artists and architects believe that the golden ratio makes the most beautiful shapes. As a result the ratio can be found in many famous buildings and artworks, such as those by Leonardo da Vinci.