The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci: why is it called that?

Leonardo da Vinci | Vitruvian Man


The Vitruvian Man is considered the most perfect example of symmetry, and is one of the most famous drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, the artist of Cenacolo.

Every time we take a 1 € coin we can admire its perfection, but what is its meaning and its origin, and where can we admire it?
I’ll tell you everything in this post.

READ ALSO: Salvator Mundi: world auction record for Leonardo da Vinci.

Why is the Vitruvian Man called that?

The Vitruvian Man is named after Vitruvius, whose essays Leonardo knew very well. The drawing was made by Leonardo da Vinci in 1490, and it’s the graphic representation of the proportions of the human body described in the treatise De architectura by the Roman architect Vitruvius (1st century BC).

The drawing depicts the image of a man perfectly inscribed in a circle and a square, and represents the relationship between the human and the divine.
Therefore, the Vitruvian Man describes the proportions of the human body geometrically, but above and below the image it is accompanied by notes written by Leonardo himself and inspired by a passage by Vitruvius, which explain the meaning of the drawing.

Perspective, proportion and anatomy are the basic elements of the Renaissance.
With the Vitruvian Man Leonardo wanted to give a mathematically measurable basis to the artistic representation, and for this reason, the written part enlarges upon the proportions of the single parts, starting from the height of the man whose center is the navel.
Leonardo lays a man down on his back, centers a compass at his navel, and draws a circle that touches the tip of his extended hands and feet.

Where is the Vitruvian Man?

The Vitruvian Man is displayed to the public only occasionally, it’s part of a collection of drawings by Leonardo kept at the Gallerie dell’ Accademia in Venice, where there’s also the works by Antonio Canova.

The last time the Vitruvian Man was exhibited it was on the occasion of Expo 2015 in Milan, when the exhibition “Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519. Drawing the World”, which I told you in a special post, was arranged.
Previously, the drawing was exhibited on the occasion of the introduction of the Euro, because the Vitruvian Man is reproduced on the 1 euro coin.

Vitruvian Man | Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, the Vitruvian Man
Gallerie dell’Accademia
Campo della Carità, Dorsoduro 1050

Monday: 8.15 – 14 (last entrance 13)
From Tuesday to Sunday: 8.15 – 19.15 (last entrance 18.15)
Closed: Monday, in the afternoon, 1 January, 1 May, 25 December

Full price 12 € ; Reduced price 6 €; Free for under 18 years old.

For more informations official website –

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2 thoughts on “The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci: why is it called that?

    • Bisognerà aspettare qualche anno ancora per rivedere l’Uomo Vitruviano. Attendiamo e incrociamo le dita che non lo portino all’estero 😉

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