Who invented the Golden Section? by Albert van der Schoot

by Albert van der Schoot | Het ORGEL | Year 99 | (2003) | Issue 3

Albert van der Schoot Who invented the Golden Section?
Het ORGEL 99 (2003), nr. 3, 38-40 [summary]

It is a persistent misunderstanding that renaissance artists and architects used the golden section. Indeed, Euclid was aware of the specific properties of the proportion; he described it in his Elements (a line is divided according to the golden section when the longer part relates to the smaller one exactly as the whole line relates to the larger part). And indeed Luca Pacioli published his Divina Proportione on the golden section in 1498, but his book doesn’t say a word about art. It appears, in fact, that artists ‘just’ referred to the proportions of the human body. There is no evidence whatsoever for the idea that Leonardo da Vinci introduced the sectio aurea. 
Whereas humanity continued to admire the special proportion, a connection between the golden section and art was made only as late as 1854, by the German philosopher Adolf Zeising, in his book Neue Lehre von den Proportionen des menschlichen Körpers, aus einem bisher unerkannt gebliebenen, die ganze Natur und Kunst durchdringenden morphologischen Grundgesetze entwickelt und mit einer vollständigen historischen Uebersicht der bisherigen Systeme begleitet. According to Zeising, nature reflected the golden section in every detail; to prove this, he presented, among other ‘evidence’, a well-adapted drawing of a bull.
No artist nor philosopher set any artistic store by the golden section before Zeising’s book was published.