Here is Roger Scruton’s passage regarding the human body and its proportions, from Chapter 3 of The Classical Vernacular:
Imagine a beautifully formed body – as depicted by Ingres, for example. Here we see a certain kind of perfection, in the lengths and disposition of the limbs, in the proportions of the body to leg, head to neck, and so on. And imagine a purely mathematical version of this figure – the head replaced by a oval pumpkin, the legs by tubular sandbags, and what you will. The mathematical relations would remain; but the beauty would have disappeared. It would cease to be appropriate to speak of proportion. For the proportion of a figure belongs to it only as interpreted. It is as a head that the oval relates to the column upon which it rests, and as a body that the column relates to the head. And not just any head or body: the head and body of a young woman, in whose eye shines the light of reason, and who therefore looks at us out of the picture.
The mathematics of the perfect body may be disturbed without doing violence to the grace and beauty, provided that the details retain their significance, and call to each other in the right tone of voice, so to speak, across the spaces that divide them. Thus, in Botticelli’s Venus we see a most extraordinary distortion of the neck, an elongation of the arms, and a thousand departures from our common-sense anatomy. But what grace is there, nevertheless. It is just this kind of grace that may survive in the vernacular use of columns and architraves, even in the most surprising places, and detached entirely from the context that gave rise to them.
As soon as three readers comment on this post, I will as a reward pop “A Sleeping Odalisque” by Ingres into my next post. So you will want to have something to say.