Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician, and a writer. He was a born Italian. He was an illegitimate son of a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant girl, Caterina, at Vinci in the region of Florence. Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio. He spent much of his earlier working life in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan. He later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice, spending his last years in France at the home given to him by King François I of France. He was a person whom people considered him well-educated. He excelled in a variety of subjects. He is considered the greatest painter of all time.
His works Mona Lisa and the Last Supper occupy unique positions in history as the most famous and the most reproduced painting of all time. Leonardo’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also equally famous. However today only a few paintings survive.
“Vitruvian Man” is perhaps Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous work. It depicts a nude male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously imposed in a circle and square. Leonardo used both text and image to express the ideas and theories of Vitruvius, a first century Roman engineer, architect and author of ‘De Architectura libri X’. Vitruvius discussed proper symmetry and proportion as related to building of temples. The architect believed that the proportions and measurements of the human body is perfect and correct. He proposed that a properly constructed temple should reflect and relate to the parts of the human body. He also noted that a human body can be symmetrically inscribed within both a circle and a square.
Leonardo’s illustration of the theory of Vitruvius is a pen ink drawing of a male figure whose outstretched limbs touch the circumference of a circle and the edges of a square. His navel falls in the exact center of the circle. Hand written theory which surrounds the figure in Vitruvian Man paraphrases Vitruvius’ theory.