How Leonardo da Vinci was inspired to create his most famous drawing, Vitruvian Man

From Sheehan Quirke, also known as The Cultural Tutor, comes the story of Vitruvius, one of the most important architects in history:

“What makes Vitruvius so important? During his retirement he wrote something called De Architectura, a comprehensive treatise — part history, part guide — on Greek and Roman architecture. This book is the only surviving architectural treatise from the ancient world. That is to say: without this book we would know far less about Classical Architecture, and would have had to reverse engineer our knowledge of the Five Orders and of Proportion by analysing ancient ruins. Vitruvius’ detailed description of human proportions, which he claimed to be the basis of Classical Architecture, inspired one of history’s most famous drawings: Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.”

He 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, and with the neck and shoulder from the top of the breast to the lowest roots of the hair is a sixth; from the middle of the breast to the summit of the crown is a fourth. If we take the height of the face itself, the dis­tance from the bottom of the chin to the under side of the nostrils is one third of it; the nose from the under side of the nostrils to a line between the eyebrows is the same; from there to the lowest roots of the hair is also a third, comprising the forehead. The length of the foot is one sixth of the height of the body; of the forearm, one fourth; and the breadth of the breast is also one fourth.”

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