Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is the archetype of the Renaissance Man. During his life he did it all: architect, painter, sculptor, musician, draftsman, engineer, geometer, inventor, anatomist, physiologist, botanist and scientist. In short, he was a true genius.
Leonardo is justly famous for his realistic paintings, such as the Mona Lisa, the Madonna of the Rocks, and the Last Supper, as well as for influential drawings such as the Vitruvian Man.
This image exemplifies the blend of art and science during the Renaissance and provides the perfect example of Leonardo's keen interest in proportion. In addition, this picture represents a cornerstone of Leonardo's attempts to relate man to nature. Encyclopaedia Britannica online states, "Leonardo envisaged the great picture chart of the human body he had produced through his anatomical drawings and Vitruvian Man as a cosmografia del minor mondo (cosmography of the microcosm). He believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe."
According to Leonardo's preview in the accompanying text, written in mirror writing, it was made as a study of the proportions of the (male) human body as described in Vitruvius.