top of page

For those who still doubt the frequent use of golden measures in ancient pictorial art, I suggest

- a self-portrait by Louis GIRODET

- an Annunciation by Cesare VECELLIO (brother of Titian Vecellio)

both of which provide quite striking concrete elements in different ways.

Golden measures with Louis GIRODET

I had the pleasure of seeing this self-portrait in the charming private altar of the Magnien Museum in Dijon.

https: // museum-magnin.

Musée Magnien Dijon.JPG

The charming Magnien museum in Dijon

Louis GIRODET (1767 - 1824) was trained at the Royal Academy and his master was no less than J-Louis DAVID, who used the golden reports in his works. This self-portrait dates from 1795, when Girodet was in full artistic maturity.

Louis GIRODET Self-portrait

Louis GIRODET - Self-portrait - 1795 - Musée Magnien Dijon - photo © gm

The detail that interested me is the compass he holds in his left hand, below.

Compas Girodet.png

And it turns out that I had bought a harmony compass which dates from the same period: end of the XVII century!

Here is the photo:

Compas d'Harmonie pour le rapport doré

A harmony compass allows, under the theorem of Thales, with its four points to give two golden ratios without making any calculation.

The resemblance to my harmony compass is fairly close but is not evidence of the use of the gilded report by Girodet.

On the other hand I was interested in the opening of the compass held in hand by Girodet, it is easy to raise it with my harmony compass.

Opening which I signified here by an orange line. This orange measure is one of the golden ratio that we can detect thanks to the two branches of my harmony compass.

This is what I did while walking around using my tool in this self-portrait.

COmp Harmo 3.png

It is possible to find there a series of five golden reports called "fifth".


We can observe that not all dimensions are managed by this fifth of golden relationships.


This comes from the use which proposes to use two different fifths to offer more possible variations and to fight against monotony.

This 2nd straight is in yellow.

Girodet autoportrait quinte de rapports dorés
GIRODET autoportrait 2éme quinte dorée.png

The verification of the use of golden ratios with another composition technique is done here by tracing the grid of medians.

This grid passes through the left eye, which corresponds to the functioning of the 1st rule of composition.

The two measurements of the eyes and the mouth are based on the vertical median.

On the other hand, we can see thanks to the vertical median that a subtle combination of the two fifths fits perfectly. This operation is a recurrent use in which the format of the table and the two fifths are interdependent. Usage observable for example at Vermeer or Nicolas Poussin.

GIRODET 2 quintes & format.png

Golden measurements with Cesare VECELLIO

I photographed this announcement in a small church in Venice (which explains the crucifix and the flowers in front) because I was challenged by the finger raised in the sky of gabriel just between his face and that of the Virgin Mary.


I immediately wondered if this composition, face-finger-face was not managed by the golden ratio.


But when I started my tracks with the technique of the looks of the characters, so from the eyes of Gabriel and Marie I found that the golden report was not at all present.


Capture d’écran 2019-10-14 à

I then remembered the biblical content of the Annunciation: Gabriel speaks and Marie listens!

But by drawing this proposition, it is not possible to connect Gabriel's mouth to Marie's ear while passing by the index finger pointed at the sky!

But let us not forget that Jesus, Mary and the angels benefit from a particularity of the technique of the angles of glance: the line of the soul which starts from the forehead of the person. So I drew a line of soul which begins from the point between Marie's eyebrows to pass on Gabriel's index and which ends ... on Gabriel's nose!

Capture d’écran 2019-10-14 à
VECELLIO Annonciation 1590 Venise

With this layout, the symbolism of the nose should be developed in a religious scene. I have encountered this iconography several times, but it would require further investigation with the publication of a specific article on this subject.

I hear the detractors who will say, not without insight, that with this nose and this point of the soul, this line is only an arrangement for putting on Cinderella's shoe by finding a golden ratio where it doesn’t there are certainly none.

A sensible remark which requires checking by other means if this line corresponds to a logic of composition and if it has a real meaning. However, it turns out that checking this line with other composition techniques is a real pleasure.

To do this, simply draw the grid of Heaven and Earth squares, a grid that is almost always present in the composition of religious scenes. Then you have to extend this Gabriel-Index-Marie line to the edge of the frame.

VECELLION Annonciation analyse de composition, grille carré ciel et terre

You can see that this line, Nez de Gabriel- Index- Ligne de la soul de Marie, precisely points to the corner of the Ciel square in the composition.


Note that this Heaven square sets up an eye and a little finger of two angels, and that the square

Earth goes through Marie's middle finger and Gabriel's belt knot.

The node symbolizing what connects. Here would be this angel Gabriel who makes the link between the divine word in the Heaven square, and Mary in the Earth square.

The two faces of Gabriel and Marie are also inscribed in the superposition, one could say in the link, of the sky square and the earth square.

All these elements suggest that the Earth-Sky grid was used by Vecellio.


Gabriel's lines of sight also offer an interesting verification and reading (below left).

This line of Gabriel's gaze is precisely calibrated with the technique of markers. Indeed we notice the golden tunic raised by the wind, a point of which forms what I called a "marker".

When the vertical of Gabriel's gaze (in red) is placed on this marker, his horizontal line of gaze is lodged in the corner of the Earth square. And her 9 ° line of vision in blue (see the technique of viewing angles) comes to meet the point of Marie's soul.


The two Heaven and Earth squares are therefore each pointed in their corners by Marie and Gabriel respectively.



Finally to finish, if we draw the lines of the soul of Mary (in red below on the right), its vertical directed towards the sky will point precisely the eye of the dove sent by God.

E tl angle "Perfect" 30 ° points the nose of Gabriel.


In fact, this purple line managed by the golden report, also called "divine report" is that of the soul of Mary who thus seems to see in itself the perfection of this announcement made by Gabriel.


The circle is thus closed for this meaningful check.


VECELLIO Annonciation regard de Gabriel

Gabriel's line of sight is wedged with the corner of the earth square and his 9 ° line of look points to the soul of Mary (the point between the eyebrows according to religious iconography).

VECELLIO ligne Ame MArie.png

The line of the soul of Marie is wedged on the eye of the dove and its line of look at 30 ° again points to Gabriel's nose.


Texts and photos protected by copyright © guymauchampU79J1B9 and a deposit at SGDL Paris.

bottom of page