London, Mar 5 : Leonardo da Vinci and other Old Masters were masters in what they did, and now a new study has further justified this by finding that a code designed by them as a guide to paint the perfect beauty is still valid.
The Renaissance artists followed six Neo-Classical criteria in defining a beautiful face.
The new study by a team of biostatisticians from the University of Nebraska found that five of the six criteria proved spot-on when tested against the eyes of male and female beholders looking at pictures.
Among the stipulations are that the width of the face must be four times the width of the nose, and the height of the forehead, length of the nose and height of the lower face must all be of equal length.
The only rule that turned out to be misleading was the nose-to-mouth ratio. Scientists found that a less full mouth was preferred in the Renaissance criteria.
In the study, the features were considered most attractive when mouth width was 1.6 times bigger than nose width. The code suggested 1.5 times bigger.
The veracity of the rules was tested by showing 36 volunteers pictures of 420 people, 32 of them celebrities.
Meg Ryan came top, scoring 8.4 out of 10. Rock Hudson came second with 7.8, Keanu Reeves third with 7.3 and Swedish actress Greta Garbo lagged behind with 7.
Four anonymous faces were also shown to the testers but scored less than the film stars.
The researchers found that "smaller chins in females are more attractive. Smaller noses, a larger distance between the eyes and smaller widths of the mouth are [also] desirable traits for females.
"For male faces, symmetry of the upper tips of the lips and symmetry of the nose is viewed as attractive. The face being divided into equal vertical thirds is an attractive trait in men," Times Online quoted the researchers, as saying.
Men and women generally agreed on the criteria for overall attractiveness, but men tended to be more generous in the scores they gave. Female faces were given higher ratings by both sexes, which suggests that feminine traits overall are viewed as more attractive than male.
The study is published in the journal Pattern Recognition.