It is unclear whether Vitruvius’ list of proportions, which were apparently part of a widely accepted canon, were meant to reflect any real measurement of the human body or flowed from an established ideal only loosely tied to dimensions found in the body.32 Indeed, as Joseph Rykwert writes: “No one has ever suggested that Vitruvius found this out by empirical measurement, though for all we know, he may have tried to check the traditional figures. In fact bodily members are the most obvious primary measuring tools, and their internal commensura-bility must have a part in the most ancient human experience.”33 But even if the origins of these ratios could be tied to earlier empirical measurements, the human body (a man’s in particular) was secondary to the ratios themselves, once these had been discovered. Numbers counted more than flesh.
The second proposition in Vitruvius’ text, and the one from which Leonardo’s sketch was drawn, Interior design singapore tied the symmetry of a temple to the symmetry found in the body as a whole:
Similarly, in the members of a temple there ought to be the greatest harmony in the symmetrical relations of the different parts to the general magnitude of the whole. Then again, in the human body the central point is naturally the navel. For if a man be placed flat on his back, with his hands and feet extended, and a pair of compasses centered at his navel, the fingers and toes of his two hands and feet will touch the circumference of a circle described therefrom. And just as the human body yields a circular outline, so too a square figure may be found from it. For if we measure the distance from the soles of feet to the top of the head, and then apply that measure to the outstretched arms, the breadth will be found to be the same as the height, as in the case of plane surfaces which are perfectly square.34
For Vitruvius, man is the measure of all things, but only in the limited sense that the geometric ratios derived from the human body are part of an underlying divine order that governs the shape of the universe.
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