Fascinating Vitruvian Man

The picture of health.

By Kevin RR Williams

HEALTH Like most artists, Leonardo da Vinci, kept a private notebook for notes and sketches as means of documenting ideas and working out details for future works. A c.1490 sketch discovered in one of the High Renaissance master’s personal notebooks is Vitruvian Man. It is among the artist’s best known works, along with Mona Lisa. and The Last Supper.

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci draws so much attention for several reasons. It demonstrates his skills as a writer, inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, and amateur anatomist. This pen and ink technical anatomy drawing validates the theories about human proportions propounded by ancient Roman architect, civil and military engineer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (81 BC – c.15 AD). In his treatise De Architectura, Vitruvius wrote:

“For the human body is so designed by nature that the face, from the chin to the top of the forehead and the lowest roots of the hair, is a tenth part of the whole height; the open hand from the wrist to the tip of the middle finger is just the same; the head from the chin to the crown is an eighth,… For if a man be placed flat on his back, with his hands and feet extended, and a pair of compasses centered at his navel, the fingers and toes of his two hands and feet will touch the circumference of a circle described therefrom. And just as the human body yields a circular outline, so too a square figure may be found from it.”

While the sketch of Leonardo da Vinci lay hidden in a drawer, other artists made less popular attempts to interpret Vitruvius theories. This includes Fra Giovanni Giocondo (1511), Cesare Cesariano (1521), Francesco Giorgi (1525) and Mariano di lacopo (Taccola).

Notes of human anatomical proportion based on the work of Vitruvius are written above and below the Leonardo da Vinci drawing of a nude man. He stands in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and inscribed within a circle and square. Vitruvian Man serves as a physical embodiment of health and vitality.

Numerous reproductions are now in public domain. The fragile original Vitruvian Man is under lock and key at the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice. An exhibition held in 2013 offered the first chance in 30 years to see Vitruvian Man. When it is not being public exhibited, the only way to view the original pen and ink with wash over metalpoint on paper is to request special permission for a private session to the Office of Drawings and Prints.

It is with great pleasure that you may obtain a special version of Vitruvian Man from Store.ClinicalPosters.com. The male figure has been colorized to highlight two of 16 poses embodied in the famous drawing. It has been scaled to the 20x26" dimensions of virtually all anatomy posters in the online store in a massive 275MB digital file for high-quality printing, lamination and framing. A smaller 6MB file suitable for letter-size desktop printing is available for courtesy download.

This 504-word article passes with grade-12 readability by the Hemingway Editor.

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Tags: art history, symmetry

References
  1. 15 Things You Might Not Know About Leonardo da Vinci's 'Vitruvian Man'. mentalfloss.com
  2. Vitruvius. wikipedia.org
  3. The Vitruvian Man - Worlds of Leonardo da Vinci. stanford.edu
  4. The Vitruvian Man. totallyhistory.com