Tag Archives: vitruvius

Ten Books of Architecture

Vitruvius: ‘Ten Books on Architecture’, edited by Ingrid D Rowland and Thomas Noble Howe, from Cambridge University Press, is part of the collection at the Reading Room.

Vitruvius Ingrid D Rowland Thomas Noble Howe Ten Books on Architecture from Cambridge University Press

“The only full treatise on architecture and its related arts to survive from classical antiquity, De Architechtura libri decem (Ten Books on Architecture) is the single most important work of architectural history in the Western world, having shaped humanist architecture and the image of the architect from the Renaissance to the present. Extremely influential in the formation of the medieval and modern concept of a broad liberal education as the basis for responsible professionals, this work is remarkable also because over half of its content deals with aspects of Hellenistic art, science and technology, music theory, law, artillery, siege machinery, proportion, and philosophy, among other topics.

The new, critical edition of Vitruvius’s Ten Books on Architecture is the first to be published for an English-language audience in more than half a century. Expressing the range of Vitruvius’s style, the translation, along with the critical commentary and illustrations, aim to shape a new image of Vitruvius who emerges as an inventive and creative thinker, rather than the normative summarizer, as he was characterized in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.” — back cover

The Other Vitruvian Man

Recent article at Smithsonian magazine talks about an earlier example of the Vitruvian man, a figure that attempts to represent man on a circle and square as theorized by Vitruvius in his Ten Books on Architecture, at “The Other Vitruvian Man: Was Leonardo da Vinci’s famous anatomical chart actually a collaborative effort?” by Tony Lester

“Vitruvian Man (C. 1490), Giacomo Andrea Da Ferrara, Biblioteca Ariostea, Ferrara (Cart. Sec. XVI, Fol. Figurato, Classe II, N. 176, Fol 78V)” [via]

“On the manuscript’s 78th folio, he found a drawing that gave him the chills. It depicted a nude figure inside a circle and a square—and it looked uncannily like Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

Everybody knows Leonardo’s drawing. It has become familiar to the point of banality. When Leonardo drew it, however, he was at work on something new: the attempt to illustrate the idea, set down by Vitruvius in the Ten Books, that the human body can be made to fit inside a circle and a square.

This was more than a geometrical statement. Ancient thinkers had long invested the circle and the square with symbolic powers. The circle represented the cosmic and the divine; the square, the earthly and the secular. Anyone proposing that a man could be made to fit inside both shapes was making a metaphysical proposition: The human body wasn’t just designed according to the principles that governed the world; it was the world, in miniature.” [via]