Ministry of Silly Talk

We Interrupt this broadcast to share some silly talk.

Yesterday, this painting sold for $450,312,500.00. Diagram 1

Diagram 1
Diagram 1

It’s attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci. As you’ve seen, and will continue to see, we have considerable respect for Mr. Da Vinci.

There are fair questions being asked about whether it is by Da Vinci. We won’t be questioning the authenticity of the work here.

What is curious is Christie’s promotion of the use of the ‘Golden Ratio’ (we use the Φ symbol) in the catalog for the painting… Diagrams 2 & 3

Diagram 2
Diagram 2
Diagram 3
Diagram 3

and the dismissal of the use and value of the ‘Golden Ratio’ by art critic Jerry Saltz

“Christie’s marketing has played the “golden ratio” card heavily here. The golden section or golden ratio is said to have been developed almost 2500 years ago and was widely employed in ancient Greek art — which had a huge influence in the Renaissance. Basically, it’s a mathematical system of measuring space whereby rectangles and proportions within the painting can in turn be divided into an almost endless, fractal series of repeating smaller rectangles, squares, ovals, and the like. Christie’s painting is riddled with this proportion.”

Mr. Saltz then writes-

“However, I’d imagine that no great artist worth their name would stoop to being this obvious, especially this far into their career when they had total freedom to do whatever they liked and had a lifetime of always doing that in increasingly original ways. All those enthralled by the Salvatore Mundi being a perfect golden section need to get a grip and see that the golden section can be imposed one way or another on almost any image. Leonardo, who was nothing if not an inventor every time out, would have been laughed out of Italy.”

This is a fair point. The evidence Christie’s offers shows the Φ ratio overlaid on the face. This can be accomplished with any face in full frontal view. The rectangle over the jeweled filigree is a Φ rectangle. The rectangle over the hand appears to have the ratio 1:2.618 or two squares and a horizontal Φ rectangle. The square over the orb doesn’t include the top of the orb.**  Diagram 4

Diagram 4
Diagram 4

Worth repeating:

“However, I’d imagine that no great artist worth their name would stoop to being this obvious, especially this far into their career when they had total freedom to do whatever they liked and had a lifetime of always doing that in increasingly original ways.”

Well, we’ll see about that. There’s nothing obvious about the Christie’s diagram except that you can find any ratio you want, on any object, if it does not have to relate back to the whole.

The painting is 17.9 x 25.8 inches (45.7 x 65.7 cm) which is 5/16” (.76 cm in width*) away from a √2 rectangleDiagram 5

Diagram 5
Diagram 5

Diagram 5 does not prove anything except, perhaps, that the experts on all sides could do a little more homework on this topic.

“To develop a complete mind, study the science of art, study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

– Leonardo Da Vinci

We will be looking at Da Vinci in the next few posts…

* The substrate is a walnut panel that cracked and buckled (vertically) over the years. This would shorten the width of the panel.

**Yes, the face diagram holds the other three (hand, orb & filigree). It just seems forced and unrelated to the whole.