The painting's secret geometry
Component of the beauty
Study of François Murez - www.francois-murez.com
Extracts of : The Painter's Secret Geometry: A Study of Composition in Art. (Charles Bouleau)
In the artistic chaos of these last years, when the absolute liberation of
the individual instinct has brought it to the point of frenzy, an attempt
to identify the harmonic disciplines that have secretly, in every period,
served as foundations for painting might well seem folly.
Jacques Villon (1963)
What is the art of composing a picture, and why, as a student, was one
told so little about it? Is it a matter of instinct and flair? Some people
assure us, nonetheless, that an extremely subtle and secret mathematical
science lurks underneath the apparent spontaneity of the masters. Others,
it is true, state that it is only a false science, a few tricks, a kind of savoir-
faire which the budding artist must make haste to acquire. I found that
these questions, when I tried to answer them, led far afield.
Giotto, Saint François
He makes spring the water of the mountain to quench a farmer.
The rabatment of the small sides of the rectangle is used here under its simplest form. The small central square on the point determines the position of the Saint. A side of the square gives the bottom of the saddle, a horizontal, to the intersection of diagonals, the height of the saddle. Two placed vertical lines too in intersections position trees. Obliques leaving a summit of the rectangle give the slope of the mountain and the figure...etc...
François Murez, Mont Blanc
The composition of this picture obeys the classic rules of the rabatment of the small sides of the rectangle.
rabatment on one side to form the square with its diagonals.
rabatment of the second side to form the second square
Display of the diagonals of the rectangle
Implementation of vertical lines and horizontal in the intersections of diagonals
Use of the anchorpoints of the vertical and horizontal to draw the other diagonals which bound elements of the picture
Van Goyen, Landscape with 2 oaks (1641)
The composition of this picture also obeys the classic rules of the rabatment of the small sides of the rectangle.
Rembrandt, The 3 trees (1643)
The same composition as Van Goyen's picture meets itself in this engraving of Rembrandt. The light, however, is treated in contrast
Claude Lorrain (1604 – 1682), Landscape
A last example of an identical construction in this drawing of Lorrain. Three works of the same time and the same composition.
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