Aesthetic canon  

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A canon in the sphere of visual arts and aesthetics, or an aesthetic canon, is a rule for proportions, so as to produce a harmoniously-formed figure.


Female body shape

By extension, the norms of a certain epoque as to what is or is not considered beautiful may be called a canon of beauty. These norms evolve and what is considered beautiful in one era may not necessarily be so today. Canons of beauty follow the evolution of fashion and are dependent on the evolution of physical decoration techniques such as hairdressing or make up.

Under France's Ancien Régime, canons of female beauty insisted on having as white a skin as possible. This was achieved (sometimes to the danger of health) by rouge and face powders as well as 'mouches', fake moles made of black muslin glued onto the face or chest. In the present, by contrast, such canons prefer a healthier skin colour, sportiness, gait and so on.

According to the anthropologist Alfred-Louis Kroeber, the female silhouette regularly revolves through one of three basic shapes - bustle, scabbard, bell.

Proportions in art

For his mural painting The Birth of Venus Sandro Botticelli stated that the distance between the nipple and navel, between the two legs and between the navel and the groin must all be equal for a figure to (in his opinion) be ideally proportioned. Other such systems of 'ideal proportions' in painting and sculpture include the Polyclitean canon and Vitruvian modules, best-known in the Vitruvian Man.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Aesthetic canon" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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