The Vitruvian Man

The Vitruvian Man
The Vitruvian Man

This drawing made byLeonardo da Vinciaround the year 1490 in one of his diaries, is undoubtedly one of the most famous illustrations of all time. And yet you can rarely see the original, since it is kept in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Venice where it is kept in its warehouses, restricting its exhibition to the public, given its condition conservation.


The Vitruvian man according to Leonardo da Vinci

His fame is due to the fact that with this representation Leonardo captured the ideal of human beauty. And for this he based himself on an ancient text, by the Roman architect and engineer Marco Vitruvio Polion who, among other things, designed the construction of the Walls of Lugo in Roman Hispania or wrote a theory book where he described those perfect proportions of the human being so that they were the basis of architecture, and that the constructions were truly harmonious.

Actually, before him there had been other attempts to define perfect proportions for the human body. Something that the sculptorPolykleitosdid in writing and that he captured in his famous work Doryphorus. And that later he modified another Greek sculptor,Praxiteles, author of the beautiful Hermes of Olympia

However, the definitive image of the canons of human proportions is this work of Leonardo. Here we see a man with arms and legs in twodifferent positions. All this included in a square and also in a circle, whose center is the navel. And surrounding the drawing there is a text written in a specular way, that is, backwards and that can only be read with the help of a mirror. Something quite common in Leonardo's diaries. There he refers to all the measurements that generate that perfect body, such as the fact that the palm of the hand, from the wrist to the end of the middle finger, must measure the same as the face from the chin to the hairline. And many other proportion references between body parts.

The truth is that the approaches of Vitruvio had been tried to be illustrated before by other artists of the Renaissance. But none managed to give them the definitive form, nor the scientific aspect that Leonardo knew how to generate. And it is that in this artist the two conditions were given, that of creator and that of researcher. In fact, he conceived of art as a science, and surely drawing was not an end, but only a means of better understanding the human body. Since we must not forget that da Vinci was not only a painter, he was a total creator of a practically insatiable curiosity that led him to study anatomy, engineering, music, botany, without forgetting his facets as a poet, writer, inventor or sculptor.

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