Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Principles of Beauty - J A Symonds

I recently bought this book, mistakenly thinking that it was by John Addington Symonds, but it is by his father.

My copy is signed 'From the Author' and was sent to Thomas Gladstone an elder brother of William Ewart Gladstone and is from the family home of Fasque House, Kincardine, Fife in Scotland.

It is a fascinating book extolling the virtues of the principles of Mr Hay's Theory of Harmonius Proportions which seems to attempt to link the proportions of angles with harmonic theories of music. It has several chapters with interesting titles: Intellectual Beauty, Moral Beauty, Ideal Beauty, etc. But the most interesting parts are the (foxed) plates at the rear which show how architectural beauty is achieved and, more interestingly, how human (but actually, in the book, female) beauty is proportioned. The first plate shows how the angles and lines define the female figure.
The Beauty of Angles and Proportions
 The next fills in the details.

The Human Figure determined by Ellipses
But the final plate I show here is entitled: Diagram showing the manner in which the elliptic curves are arranged in order to produce the outline of the human figure.

It looks like a sketch by Lucian Freud

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