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The Renaissance Man: da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man’

by Emma Shirey

Leonardo  da Vinci is famous for many renowned paintings such as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and Madonna. While these are masterpieces of art, da Vinci was also a master of mathematics and science. This can be seen in da Vinci’s ‘Vetruvian Man’ from 1487.


The sketch of a man with four outstretched arms is accompanied by notes. These notes show how da Vinci understood the proportions of the human body. The measurement from the forehead to the chin is exactly one tenth of the total height, and the wingspan is as wide as the body is tall. Take a close look at the bottom of the image – he even marked the image with fractions to measure the body’s proportions. Leonardo da Vinci spent his life finding connections between the human body and the patterns in the natural world.


Mathematically, the ideas within Leonardo da Vinci’s Vetruvian Man were ahead of their time. The idea of ‘squaring the circle’ is “the challenge of constructing a square with the same area as a given circle by using only a finite number of steps with a compass and a straightedge.”

Science and art are historically connected and ‘Vetruvian Man’ exemplifies this beautiful relationship.



Shirey, E. (2019). The Renaissance Man: da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man’. D.U.Quark, 4 (1). Retrieved from



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