Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Vitrivius Man Story

Every time, I hear about Leonardo’s drawings, I hear ‘Mona Lisa,’ ‘The last supper’ and another man with a square in a circle. ‘Vitruvius man.’ As fictious Monalisa, I presumed ‘Vitruvius man’ is such sketch with so much of accuracy and ratio. I was wrong. The story behind Vitruvius is beyond the ratio and a  perfect sketch.

Marcus Virtuvius Pollio, born during 80 BC, worked under Caesar, specialized in design and construction of artillery machine. I have a difficulty to imagine the kind of artillery machines, these people get to create during those old times.

He is also the author of the book, ‘De Architectura,’ known as The Ten Books on Architecture.

After nearly 14 centuries, Italian humanist Poggio Bracciolini discovered the old scripture. It traveled many places and at last, was sent to Florence, the land of Leonardo Da Vinci. Before Leonardo got a chance to look at it, his influencers, polymaths, Brunelleschi, and Alberti got a chance to look at the book and learn a lot from it. They also built many cathedrals with their mastery over architecture.

What is this about and what did Vitruvius say in the book?

It seemed about ratio as well as a profound thought as I read the lines, “The relationship between the microcosm of man and the macrocosm of the earth.”

“All the arts and all the world’s rules are derived from a well composed and proportioned human body.”

“Man, called a little world, contains in himself all the general perfections of the whole world.”

Vitruvius talks about proportion and applied this analogy to the design of temples. He decreed that layout should reflect the proportions of a human body. 

“There must be a precise relation between its components, as in the case of those of a well-shaped man.”

Vitruvius described the proportion of the well-shaped man in detail, that informs the design of the temple.

Mentioning the proportions, Vitruvius also described a way to put a man in a circle and square to determine the ideal proportion

Basing upon the Vitruvius proportions, many artists tried sketching out. Francesco tried it. Leonardo’s friend Giacomo Andrea is the person who shared a lot of information on Vitruvius Man. Over a dinner, they shared a lot of knowledge on Vitruvius man and Leonardo got a chance to get a Giacomo’s manuscript copy after long time.

More than the sketch, I am interested about the episodes of meets and conversations that led Leonardo to drew one of the masterpieces. It is interesting how a scripture from 80 BC was discovered after 1500 years. It was in 1980, Giacomo’s drawing was rediscovered.  It is fascinating how the discovery and rediscovery leads to various stories.


I’m getting to know a lot of stories behind the Leonardo’s work. Leonardo’s biography by Walter Issacson is brilliant.

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