Proportion refers to a certain relationship between the parts that maintain an order among themselves capable of being specified. The term can be applied in different ways and in different areas, but it is used especially in some disciplines. This circumstance is explained by the fact that keeping a proportion between different elements is crucial and must be reflected in the best possible way. In Ancient Greece, for example, thanks to the high valuation of beauty, the idea of proportion was highly valued and was also extended to the moral plane , where acts should be related to a measure or restriction; thus, a failure in this sense was undoubtedly punished by the gods.
Given the above, it is clear that the first disciplines that make use of proportion are the artistic ones. Among them, the one that most needs this circumstance is painting. In fact, for a drawing or painting to function as a reflection of reality, it is necessary to keep a certain proportion between the parts. A famous example is the work “Vitruvian Man” by Leonardo da Vinci, which reflects the proportion that must exist between the members of a drawn man. The chart is accompanied with anatomical research notes that serve as an explanation for this technique .
In the case of sculpture, the same criterion applies to painting. The proportion must be respected in cases where living beings are represented, in particular human beings. The Greeks were the main cultivators of this type of criterion, a circumstance that can be easily evidenced by looking at samples from the past. Over time, this characteristic was lost and only returned with the Renaissance , when the knowledge of Ancient Greece and Rome was revalued.
In architecture, proportion has to do with the fact that the weights of a structure are properly distributed and do not give rise to dangerous situations. Thus, the structure that supports a building must maintain a proportion between the parts in order to avoid the imbalances that can cause collapses.
When observing nature, we can see clear situations of symmetry and therefore of proportion. This circumstance has been studied on a few occasions and has given rise to some theories and mathematical relationships that can further enhance the notion of proportion in art.