MS#93. The Geometry of Angels, 1997
In: Bolt from the Blue, 2011, ch.4, pp. 65-78.
Subjects: Art history
Written: November 24, 1997
Abstract: We analyze the mathematical vision behind the wings of the angel Gabriel, in a Renaissaance painting, the Cortona Annunciation of Fra Angelico. In the context of the Renaisance mathematics of perspective and conic sections, the flapping wings generate a family of toroids. We interpret this image as a painterly representation of the three-sphere of Dante. As such, this geometrical vision of Fra Angelico presaged seminal works of modern mathematics, such as the Hopf fibration.
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Last revised by Ralph Abraham