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Traduzione e note di Riccardo Scarda. Rizzoli: Milano, Leonardo da Vinci, Vitruvian Man. Galleria dell'Accademia in Venice, n. The essay opens with an analysis of topics such as the image as the first element to be set out onto the page and its influence on the graphic arrangement of the text; the ambiguity between a private study and a study to be published; the dimension of the single page.
It then proceeds towards an analysis of Leonardo's drawing as an attempt to visu- alize in a perfect way a text by Vitruvius and the conception of the visu- al language as a philological instrument. He therefore went on also to describe the proportions for the perfect form of the human body. In particular, he described the link between the body as a whole and the two perfect geometrical forms: the circle and the square. Vitruvius then proceeded to discuss the proportions of the parts of the body in terms of fractions of the whole.
For example: "the head from the chin to the crown is an eight part of the human body,"- and so on. In the drawing by Leonardo, we can see these very principles illustrated. There is the connection of the human figure to the circle and the square. Inside the human figure, there is even a pattern of lines which indicate measurements and connections between the different parts of the body. In particular, the Among the more recent and significant studies see ZoUner "L'uomo vitruviano" and Sinisgalli "La sezione aurea.
In my view, both studies underestimate the main subject of Leonardo's study: the human body and its proportions. See also the fundamen- tal synthesis by Zollner Vitruvs Proportionsfigur. Vitruvius, De architectura. Ij icI i i. Sloaiif 52J , f.
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By kind permission of the British Library human figure presents one single head and one single trunk, but contains multiple arms and legs in alternative positions. The position with joined legs and horizontal arms refers to the square. The position with open or outstretched legs and raised up arms refers to the circle. Before analyzing the meaning and the content of this study, let us first try to focus in on its nature. One aspect to point out is that the drawing was the first element to be set out onto the page, and it was only later that the text was added. We can see this by the fact that the last two lines of the text, at the top of the page, are interrupted by the form of the circle and continue after it, seemingly following its contour.
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This is not an insignificant point. The first editions of Vitruvius's treatise published by some humanists were without images, and even when these editions included illustrations, they were set out at the end, or in the margins of the text, as if they were an appendix. Sloane , f 2; fig. In Leonardo's version, on the contrary, the relation is just the opposite: the figure is the central piece, with the text serving it like a complimentary element.
Leonardo's text quotes a famous passage by Vitruvius, with some orig- inal variations see the Appendix. Therefore, it develops a continuous and unitary discourse. Nevertheless, Leonardo has broken it up into three units fig. A first passage at the top ends with the beginning of the drawing, branching out symmetrically, to the right and left of it.
This isolated line is finally followed by a last and long passage at the bottom of the page. This graphic arrangement is not accidental. P I N i-lj. Vienna, Oesterreichische Nationalbibliotek, ms.
By kind permission of the Austrian National Library with the relationship between the human figure and the circle. At the same time, the content of the isolated line of text, positioned immediately underneath the drawing, deals with the link between the human body and the square and, from a graphic point of view, is visually linked to the posi- tion of the closed legs related to the square. Therefore, the content of the text affects its graphic arrangement, a form of communication already put to use during the Middle Ages, for example in the so-called carmina figu- rata.
A private study or a study to be published? Apart from these subtle associations, by cutting and setting out the text into three units Leonardo has achieved an end result of text and figure that is graphically refined. Both for this reason, and for the minute attention given to the drawing itself, we could say that he was thinking about publishing his study. It has even been speculated that this sheet was originally an illustra- tion, or even the frontispiece, for a treatise on architecture, or for his trea- tise on painting, and that it was subsequently destined to be printed.
There are some problems, however, with this hypothesis. The hand- writing used by Leonardo is from right to left:. It was not easy to read even for Leonardo's contemporaries as attested by various ancient sources , and it does not seem to support this hypothesis. We know that Leonardo did write left to right when he was preparing studies to be shown to other peo- ple.
For example this occurs in the maps of the river Arno done for the Florentine government, where there are notes written in the standard man- ner, from left to right.