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Leonardo Da Vinci And Humanism’s Blueprint

Leonardo da Vinci and the most famous drawing in history. His Vitruvian Man, arms and legs outstretched in a circle. Leonardo’s vision of the world.

The Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1487.

The Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1487.

The image is impossible to forget once you’ve seen it.  Leonardo DaVinci’s “Vitruvian Man” – the bold, nude, outstretched human figure; arms and legs flung wide to the boundaries of a circle and a square.  The “guy doing naked jumping jacks.”

Symbol of man in the universe, man as the universe.  The grandeur of art.  The nature of well-being.  The power of geometry.  The ideals of the Renaissance.  The beauty of the human body.  The creative potential of the human mind.  The most famous drawing in history.

This hour, On Point:  we’ll look at the origins and secrets of Leonardo’s “Vitruvian Man.”

-Tom Ashbrook

 

Guests

Toby Lester, author of Da Vinci’s Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image.

C-Segment: The Two Mona Lisas

Matthew Landrus, leading expert on Leonardo da Vinci. Art historian at Oxford University and the Rhode Island School of Design.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “In the richly rewarding history “Da Vinci’s Ghost,” Toby ­Lester, a contributing editor at The Atlantic, shows that Leonardo had long been fascinated by the concept of man as a microcosm of the universe. ”

Smithsonian Magazine “When Sgarbi took a look at it, he discovered, to his amazement, that in fact it contained almost the full text of the Ten Books, along with 127 drawings. Moreover, it showed every sign of having been produced during the late 1400s, years before anyone was known to have systematically illustrated the work.”

MSNBC “A “Mona Lisa” copy owned by Spain’s Prado Museum was almost certainly painted by one of Leonardo da Vinci’s apprentices alongside the master himself as he did the original, museum officials said Wednesday.”

More

You can find a collection of other “Vitruvian Men” here compiled by Stanford University.

The Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1487.

The Vitruvian Man drawing by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1487.

Taccola’s interpretation of the Vitruvian man (© Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza)

Taccola’s interpretation of the Vitruvian man (© Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza)

View of a Skull (da Vinci c. 1489)

View of a Skull (da Vinci c. 1489)

Universal Man  by Hildegard of Bingen c. 1165 Biblioteca Statale , Lucca.

Universal Man by Hildegard of Bingen c. 1165 Biblioteca Statale , Lucca.

Photos: The Two Mona Lisas

Mona Lisa (Musée du Louvre)

Mona Lisa (Musée du Louvre)

The restored copy of La Gioconda in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The work is believed to have been made by an apprentice of Leonardo's, possibly at the same time as the original.

The restored copy of La Gioconda in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The work is believed to have been made by an apprentice of Leonardo's, possibly at the same time as the original.

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