What Is Pyramid Composition in Art Terms?

The pyramid composition is one of the most basic ways to put together a picture or piece of art. In a pyramid composition portrait, the subject’s body is shaped like an upright triangle, with the head in the middle of the vertical space at the top and the shoulders and body forming a wide base at the bottom. Balanced and symmetrical, the pattern is easy for the eye to follow.

“The Madonna and Child with St. Anne,” an oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci, is an early example of the pyramid composition. In the piece, the triangle is made up of St. Anne’s head at the top and baby Jesus and a dog at the bottom. Michelangelo, Raphael, and other artists of the Renaissance also liked this piece.

During the Middle Ages, many people were painted flat next to each other, with the whole picture not having a clear shape. Artists became more aware of composition during the Renaissance, which is when pyramid composition became popular. Nature is full of things that look like pyramids. Two examples are mountains and pine trees. When you stand on the ground and look up, tall buildings also look like pyramids. Because of this, the pyramid composition is thought of as a pleasant and natural one.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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