Geometry and Art

The Mystery of Rennes-le-Château

Pentagonal Signature Geometry

While investigating the possibility of a geometrical key underlying Poussin's Shepherds of Arcadia the author uncovered a possible tradition from the late Gothic through Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque art that employed a pure form of geometry in picture composition and the determination of canvas size and viewing frame.

The technique came to be called, in my own mind, Pentagonal Signature Geometry.

The links below direct the reader to pages containing images relating to works of the artists it is believed may have used such a scheme. Descriptive text will be added as time allows, but the interested reader should be able to reconstruct the figures from the diagrams, as the designs mostly employ common constructional angles.

The inclusion of works mostly depends upon identifying paintings with 'pointers' to, or 'indicators' of, a pentagonal geometry. These may typically take the form of straight edges such staffs, walking sticks, lances, spears, arrows, ladders etc. or arcs of a circle. A common form of 'indicator' is the pointing finger marking a major constructional line. There are also 'confirmers', apparently introduced for this sole purpose, which appear incidentally out of the design. A Barn Interior by Teniers the Younger provides an excellent example of this.

Some of the more abstruse pentagonal signatures employ angles that cannot be properly constructed, that is, those based on the enneagon (40 and 50 degrees). However, there are ways to produce these using a marked straight edge and, as this was known to the Ancient Greeks, would not have caused a problem for Renaissance artists.

Note: At present, this is just a concept. Analysis is hampered by not having precise and authenticated sizes of paintings both in and out of the frame together with accurate images (web images are notoriously inaccurate and even those in brochures and books are sometimes truncated). I am also aware that it is very easy to create something from nothing!

Introductory Article

This article can be found, together with complementary articles concerning the mystery of Rennes-le-Château from a range of authors, at:

Andrew Gough's Arcadia

Works of Art Potentially Employing Pentagonal Signature Geometry (by Artist)

Pentagonal Signature Designs Associated with the Mystery of Rennes-le-Château



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