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19 Photos That Accidentally Look Like Renaissance Art

We found pieces of modern photojournalism that mirror Renaissance paintings, and applied the Golden Ratio to them.

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The picture below of revellers in Manchester, captured by Joel Goodman in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2016, became a viral sensation, retweeted 29,000 times, after the BBC’s Roland Hughes noted on Twitter that it resembled a beautiful painting.

Pictures like this are often described as "accidental Renaissance", indicating that they inadvertently conform to traditional Renaissance ideas of beauty and symmetry. They often seem to fit the principle of the Golden Rectangle – a rectangle (shown below in pink) used by Renaissance artists where the longer side (a) plus the shorter side (b) divided by the longer side (a) is equal to the longer side (a) divided by the shorter side (b).


This is based on the formula known as the Golden Ratio:

Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, for example, famously uses the ratio to place the finger of God in exactly the right place.

The Fibonacci spiral

Renaissance artists would use the ratio with the visual aid of the Fibonacci spiral, which is created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in the Golden Rectangle. It was devised by mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci in the year 1202.

Above left is a Golden Rectangle with a series of rectangles and one square within it. The numbers represent the way the different sections of the Golden Rectangle are formed. They follow the sequence: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34... The next number can always be found by adding up the two numbers before it.

Above right you can see the Golden Rectangle with the Fibonacci spiral added.

Here is Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Note how all the key dimensions of the room align with the Golden Ratio – although some of the rectangles used within it finish off-canvas.


We found our own modern-day photographs that seem to unintentionally mirror the composition of Italian Renaissance paintings, and applied the Golden Ratio to them...


Toru Hani / Reuters / BuzzFeed

Opposition lawmakers crowd around Masahisa Sato (2nd L), deputation chairman of the upper house special committee on security, at an upper house special committee session on security-related legislation at the parliament in Tokyo, Japan, 17 September 2015.


Tobias Schwarz / Reuters

A dancer performs on a watery stage suspended above the audience during the Fuerza Bruta dress rehearsal at the Bread and Butter fashion trade show in Berlin 16 January 2012.


4. Comparing a photo of an emotional Frank Lampard to an Italian masterpiece.

Chelsea's Frank Lampard is congratulated by Didier Drogba, left, and Ricardo Carvalho, right, after scoring against Liverpool during their Champions League second-leg semifinal soccer match at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London, Wednesday, 30 April 2008. (Right) The Virgin Mary holding Christ’s lifeless body in Sandro Botticelli’s "Pity".


Oded Balilty / AP

Ultra-Orthodox Jews gather for the traditional Jewish wedding for Chananya Yom Tov Lipa, the great-grandson of the Rabbi of the Wiznitz Hasidic followers, in the Israeli town of Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv, Israel, on 14 February 2012.


Nikita Dudnik / AP

People run to shelter from a hailstorm on the beach at the Ob River, the major river in western Siberia in Novosibirsk, Russia, in this photo taken on a smartphone on Saturday, 12 July 2014.


9. Adam Gray / Adam

Traders work on the trading floor of the open outcry pit during the last ever session at the London Metal Exchange, London, 27 January 2016. The historic trading ring, the only one of its kind in Europe (and possibly the world), was set to move to new premises on 1 February 2016 after 11 years at its current location in Leadenhall Street.


David Ramos / Getty Images

Revellers enjoy the atmosphere during the opening day or "Chupinazo" of the San Fermin Running of the Bulls fiesta on 6 July 2015 in Pamplona, Spain.


Damir Sagolj / Reuters

The camera rolls as actors dressed as historical Chinese soldiers act as though they have been hit by artillery, during filming of "The Last Prince" television series on location near Hengdian World Studios near Hengdian, 24 July 2015.


Konstantin Chernichkin / Reuters

Pro-government deputies of Yulia Tymoshenko's bloc and the Our Ukraine party (top) scuffle with opposition deputies of the Regions party in parliament in Kiev, 5 February 2008.



Kim Hong-ji / Reuters

Korean Air Lines chairman Cho Yang-ho arrives to testify at the second court hearing of his daughter Cho Hyun-ah, also known as Heather Cho, at the Seoul Western District court in Seoul, 30 January 2015.


Noah Berger / Reuters

Hannah Brown and fellow activists demonstrate against the planned clearcutting of trees outlined in the East Bay Deforestation Plan on the University of California, Berkeley campus, in Berkeley, California, 18 July 2015.


Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

US President Barack Obama is surrounded by lawmakers and family members of slain police officers as he signs the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act into law in the Oval Office in Washington, 19 May 2015. Ramos and Liu were the New York City police officers shot dead while in a patrol car last December by a killer who said he wanted to kill police in revenge for deaths of black men by police.


Adnan1 Abidi / Reuters

Women beat men with torn clothes during "Huranga" at the Dauji temple near the northern Indian city of Mathura, 9 March 2012. Huranga is a game played between men and women a day after Holi, the festival of colours, during which men drench women with liquid colours and women tear the men's clothes off.