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Albrecht Durer: Four Books on Human Proportion - Golden Rectangles

  Successive Golden Rectangles dividing a Golden Rectangle into squares (logarithmic spiral known as the golden spiral)

Four Books on Human Proportion by Albrecht Durer
Durer's work on human proportions is called the Four Books on Human Proportion of 1528.

The first book was mainly composed by 1512/13 and completed by 1523, showing five differently constructed types of both male and female figures, all parts of the body expressed in fractions of the total height. Durer based these constructions on both Vitruvius and empirical observations of, "two to three hundred living persons," in his own words.

The second book includes eight further types, broken down not into fractions but an Albertian system, which Durer probably learned from Francesco di Giorgio's 'De harmonica mundi totius' of 1525.

In the third book, Durer gives principles by which the proportions of the figures can be modified, including the mathematical simulation of convex and concave mirrors; here Durer also deals with human physiognomy.

The fourth book is devoted to the theory of movement.

Albrecht Durer
Albrecht Durer (1471 – 1528) was a German painter, printmaker, mathematician, engraver, and theorist from Nuremberg. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance ever since.
Source: Wikipedia, Albrecht Durer.

Golden rectangle
A golden rectangle is a rectangle whose side lengths are in the golden ratio, one-to-phi, that is, approximately 1:1.618. A distinctive feature of this shape is that when a square section is removed, the remainder is another golden rectangle, that is, with the same proportions as the first. Square removal can be repeated infinitely, which leads to an approximation of the golden or Fibonacci spiral.


Four Books on Human Proportion by Albrecht Durer. Golden Rectangles


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