Example - proportion. People didn't know more math than we...

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Example: If seven bracci (1/3 person's height or about 23") of cloth are worth nine lire; how much will five bracci of cloth be worth? Solution: The thing we want to know about is: 5 bracci of cloth. The thing dissimilar to it is: 9 lire The remaining thing is: 7 bracci of cloth. So: (5 bracci) x (9 lire) / (7 bracci) = 6 3/7 lire The units are lire, because lire are dissimilar to bracci, the units in the thing we wanted to know about. Skills in Proportion Affected the Way People Saw Pictures So what does ability to solve proportions have to do with art? Baxandall claims that the skills used to solve exchange problems were the same used for the making or seeing of pictures. He makes the following points: 1. Renaissance education placed exceptional value on a few math skills, like
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Unformatted text preview: proportion. People didn't know more math than we do, but they knew it absolutely; it was a relatively larger part of their intellectual equipment. 2. The math skills used by merchants were the same as those used by the painter. 3. The status of these skills in his society was an encouragement to the painter to assert them in his pictures. 4. Because merchants were practiced in manipulating ratios, they were sensitive to pictures carrying the marks of similar processes. It was a small step from the proportions of a currency exchange to the proportion of a physical body, such as the cup and the fish in the slide, to the proportions of a man's head, as done by Leonardo in this sketch from his notebooks, or by Piero in his Flagellation ....
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