A mathematical.... painting!

We propose an artistic-mathematical challenge.

In this painting, realized in the late 1800s, a lesson of math is represented.

The teacher asked his students to do this operation in their minds:

I'll tell you that the answer is 2, now you need to find:
1 which property of these numbers could have been used to solve this hard calculation in your head
2 if this is the only series of 5 consecutive terms that has this property
3 the name and the artist of the painting and to which real character it's referred

Have fun!
I invite you to propose other artistic-mathematical games!

The Greek team found an interesting parallel to the beautiful paining.
Here is a photo from the Zosimaia Academy in the town of Yannina in Greece showing a trigonometry class. Note that there is a girl among the boys, too. We are guessing the photo is early 20th century.

Here is a nice Maths lesson we found, the boy looks a bit overwhelmed, does he not?
Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


  1. A nice painting and a nice riddle, not very easy! We are already working on it! Thank you!

  2. Its a great painting i think that is a masterpiece!!!Nikos Litsas,from the greek team

  3. thanks to the Greek team for the nice picture!

  4. Here is one from us, too. Do your students look like this sometimes? During tests, maybe? :)