This section is from the "The Proportions Of The Human Body" book, by Bertram C. A. Windle. Also see Amazon: The Proportions Of The Human Body.

Such a form is exemplified by the canon of Polycletus. This statue owed its name to the fact that its parts are of perfect proportion and in harmony.' And again: 'The beauty of the human body is shown in the symmetry of the various parts, as clearly explained in the canon of Polycletus' (here the commentary is probably alluded to). 'In these writings the master has described his law of all the proportions of the body, and has illustrated this by means of a statue made in exact conformity with his rules. The name of canon was given by him both to his writings and to the statue.' Winckelmanns, in his 'History of Greek Art,' states that amongst the ancients the foot was the standard of all large measurements, and by its length sculptors determined the height of their statues, giving to them, as Vitruvius states, six lengths of the foot; for the foot has a more determinate length than the head or the face, from which modern sculptors and painters generally deduce the proportions of their figures. Hence Pythagoras calculated the height of Hercules from the length of his foot, with which he measured the Olympic stadium at Elis. As regards the number of heads in height, the various artists seem to have at times adopted different scales.

Thus the Faraese Hercules and the Gladiator measure eight heads, the Apollo and the Laocoon seven and two-thirds, and the Antinous seven and a half.

The Venus of the Medici has a similar measurement. We are ignorant of the exact rule which the Greek artists made use of, but various attempts have been made to arrive at it by measurements of various masterpieces. I here reproduce some of the figures arrived at by Quetelet:

Fig. 2. The Egyptian Canon, or Canon of Lepsius (Duval).

Stature........... 1,000

Height of the head......... l30

Neck, from the chin to the clavicles...... 37

Trunk, from the clavicles to the pubis..... 306

Lower Limb, from the pubis to the ground .... 513

Lower Limb, from the perineum to the ground ... 482 Upper Limb, from the acromion to the extremity of the middle finger........... 455

Length of the hand......... 109

Length of the foot......... 149

A good idea of the variation in proportions may be obtained from the following table, prepared by Professor Langer, of Vienna, which gives the measurements of certain parts of the body reduced to terms of the stature, which is considered as consisting of 1,000 parts.

Measures reduced to 1.000 parts of Body Stature. | Germanicus (so-called). | Apoxyo-menos. | Apollo (Vatican). | Venus (Medicean). |

Height of the head..... | 127.3 | 119.0 | 117.5 | 127.5 |

Height of upper part of body (above symphysis pubis) -.......... | 480.0 | 4462 | 461.5 | 470.4 |

Height of lower part of body (below symphysis) -.... | 520.0 | 5538 | 538.5 | 529.6 |

Difference between two last measurements -......... | 40.0 | 107.6 | 77.0 | 59 2 |

Length of Thigh............ | 220.4 | 264.8 | 233.5 | 2350 |

Length of Leg -........... | 221.0 | 2661 | 267.8 | 260.0 |

It will be noticed that in the first and last the head is contained 7.8 times in the body, whilst in the second and third it is contained about 8.5 times. The effect produced by this difference of proportion, as well as by the other variations in measurement, is well shown by Fig. 3, from the same author, which gives linear schemes of the proportions of the so-called Germanicus (A) and the Apoxyo-menos (B).

Winckelmanns states that the following rule of proportion for the face is, in his opinion, the exact method observed by the ancients. It was devised by Antonio Raphael Mengs. 'Draw a vertical line and divide it into five equal parts, the uppermost fifth is for the hair. Again divide the remainder of the line into three equal parts. Draw a horizontal line through the lower extremity of the first of these three divisions, forming with the perpendicular line a cross. The horizontal line must be as long as two of the three parts into which the length of the face is divided. Let curved lines be drawn from the extreme points of this line to the upper extremity of the fifth part originally set off; these form the smaller end of the oval of the face. Now divide one of the three parts of the length of the face into twelve equal portions. Let three of them, that is to say, one-fourth of one of these thirds, or one-twelfth of the length of the face, be measured off on both sides of the point of intersection of the horizontal and perpendicular lines; these two portions indicate the space between the eyes. Let three other portions be measured off on both outer extremities of the horizontal line.

The space which now remains included between the quarter at the outer end of the horizontal line and the quarter at the point of intersection of the two lines is equal to two quarters, or six of the twelve portions mentioned above, and gives the length of an eye. One quarter is the width of the eye, and also the distance from the tip of the nose to the opening of the lip, and from this point to the curvature of the chin, and thence to the tip of the chin. The breadth of the nose to the wings of the nostrils contains just a quarter. The length of the mouth requires two quarters; it is therefore equal to the length of the eye, or to the height of the chin from its point to the line of junction of the lips. One-half of the face measured from the roots of the hair gives the length from the chin to the pit at the lower extremity of the neck. The German editor of this work notes that instead of 'and thence to the tip of the chin' we should read 'from the depression to the point of the chin is two portions.' He also points out that the length of the mouth is half as long again as the eye.

The best known Roman canon is that of Vitruvius, who flourished b.c. 46. According to this rule the head forms the eighth part of the body; the face, from the roots of the hair to the chin, is equal to the length of the hand, and forms the tenth part of the body. The foot is the seventh part, and the fore-arm and hand taken together is the fourth. Vitruvius is also the authority for the incorrect statement that the umbilicus is the central point of the body. He says, 'The umbilicus is naturally the centre of the body, so that if a man lies down flat on his back with his arms and legs stretched out, and if a circle be described with the umbilicus as its centre, the line will touch the points of the digits of both hands and feet.' He is also the authority for the statement that the height of the body is equal to the distance between the tips of the fingers when the arms are stretched out as far as possible from the sides.

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