Leonardo da Vinci Draws the Vitruvian Man

The Vitruvian Man embodies the Renaissance ideals of geometry, architecture, humanism, etc and Leonardo da Vinci’s nature as a polymath. It has been observed that da Vinci detailed his drawing to an unnecessary extent for solely displaying scientific information. It can be assumed then, that da Vinci wishes to comment on the beauty of the human body as well as its perfection in geometric form. Some have also observed that there is an illusory effect that the figure in the drawing is in motion, as da Vinci portrays “one leg and then the other being pushed out and pulled back, the arms flapping as if in flight, (Isaacson 156). 

da Vinci’s choice to detail the human form and the human form only as well as incorporate illusions of movement in two-dimensional drawings shows the shifting paradigm from medieval ideals to Renaissance ideals.

The Vitruvian Man drawing has symbolized the Renaissance trait of contemplating the human role in the grand scheme of things. The drawing itself seeks to describe “the relationship between the microcosm of man and the macrocosm of the earth,” (Isaacson 149). Renaissance thought extends that idea to include that which is not the earth, whether in extraterrestrial observations through astronomy or contemplation of the divine.


Murtinho, Vitor. “Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man Drawing: A New Interpretation Looking at Leonardo’s Geometric Constructions.” Nexus Network Journal, vol. 17, no. 2, Sept. 2015, pp. 507–524.

Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 8 Vitruvian Man.” Leonardo Da Vinci: The Biography, Simon & Schuster, 2018.

Associated Place(s)

Event date:

circa. 1487