Maths in Art 6: Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci could compete with Escher for the title of most famous mathematical artist, but primarily he is know for his inventions and the historically inaccurate novel The Da Vinci Code. In fact he earns the title Polymath, meaning someone whose expertise span multiple science and art subjects.

Leonardo da Vinci self portrait face

When I saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre I was surprised at just how small it was. The painting by Da Vinci is perhaps one of the most famous classical paintings. This is most likely because Leonardo had spent a good deal of time studying proportions of the human body, the Golden Ratio, the Fibonacci sequence and much more.


We don’t know whether La Gioconda actually had golden ratio proportions in her facial features, but I expect Da Vinci would have used his knowledge to beautify the image. the golden ratio doesn’t just appear once, it can be found all over the painting. Atalay has even written a book Math and the Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Another famed Da Vinci painting The Last Supper uses ‘the golden section’, a technique now used by photographers to capture visually appealing photos.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) The Last Supper (1495-1498) golden section

There’s lots of really interesting drawings by Da Vinci, if you want to see more is a good place to start.

leonardo da vinci mathematician


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