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In a newly published paper, [Economist P.H. Franses of the Erasmus School of Economics in the Netherlands] reports that painters create their most masterful works (at least as determined by the marketplace) “at the 0.618 fraction of their lives.”

[…]

Franses examined data on 221 famous painters of the 19th and 20th centuries, 189 of whom have died. He compared their total lifespans with the year they created what is today their most expensive work. “Of course, many other measurements (of peak creativity) are possible, but this seems the most objective one,” he writes in the Creativity Research Journal.

On average, the painters produced their most highly valued work when they were 41.92 years old; they had lived just under 62 percent of their total lives. Specifically, “the average fraction (of their life) is 0.6198,” he writes, calling that “quite striking.”

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