PA2- Meet an architect

Biografia de Marco Vitruvio Polión

A harmonious design requires that there is nothing to add or take away – Vitruvius

The architect I have chosen for this task is Vitruvius, a Roman architect, writer, engineer, and teatrise writer of the 1st century BC.

The place and year of birth of the architect, who lived during the time of Julius Caesar and Octavio Augusto, is unknown. Maffei considered him from Verona; others believe that he must have been born in Placencia, and some consider him a native of Mola de Gaeta, ancient Formia; this last assumption seems to be the best founded. It is known, however, that his existence was long and active: he was a soldier, with Julius Caesar, in Hispania and Greece, where he acted as a military engineer. Then he resided in Rome, and there he worked in the imperial constructions.

Like the traces of his existence, the remains of his work have also been almost entirely erased by time; There are only a few in the town of Fano, for which Vitruvius built a famous basilica and an Augustan triumphal arch which stills visible, although modified. He also designed war machines and built many monuments.

The fame of Vitruvius is due to the treatise De architectura, the only work of these characteristics that is preserved from classical antiquity.

Vitruvian is also known for the famous Vitruvian Man or also called Study of the ideal proportions of the human body. The Vitruvian Man is a pen and ink drawing, on paper, not much larger than a sheet of paper. It is currently on display at the Accademia Gallery in Venice, but is only shown to the public once every ten years, for conservation reasons. Around the drawing is a text that explains the corrections that Da Vinci made. It is written in specular writing, that is, in the opposite direction, as if it had been reflected in a mirror.

It is a famous drawing accompanied by anatomical notes by Leonardo da Vinci made around 1490 in one of his diaries. It represents a naked male figure in two superimposed positions of arms and legs and inscribed in a circumference and a square. It is a study of the proportions of the human body, made from Vitruvian architectural texts, from which the drawing takes its name.

Marco Vitruvio applied his knowledge of architecture to try to define the perfect man through symmetry. However, Leonardo Da Vinci, 1,400 years later, updated the proportions of Vitruvius

Hombre de Vitruvio - Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre

The Vetruvian Man has been considered for centuries a canon of human proportions, and has been used as a reference in many studies, and as a model of perfection in crafts and works of art. And indeed, architecturally it is. It has perfectly symmetrical proportions, as shown by the fact that the man fits into the square and the circle in the drawing, and that although the position of the arms and legs changes, the navel remains in the same place.

But can this canon be given to a real person? Perfect proportions do not exist because there is no perfect man either. A thing is perfect with respect to something, and it changes according to its function. The Vetruvian Man is a mathematical canon, yes, but … with respect to what?

The only thing we can assure you is that perfection changes depending on the point of view.

But if the Vitruvian Man has gone down in Art History and is considered one of the most important works of the Renaissance. It is not because it represents perfection, but because Da Vinci took up the practice of using mathematical proportions to represent the human body, and this influenced countless artists and architects in later centuries. It is used in countless quotes as a perfect example of Nature’s mathematical symmetry and order.