The Vitruvian Man is a world renowned drawing with accompanying notes created by Leonardo da Vinci around the year 1492 as recorded in one of his journals. It depicts a nude male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously inscribed in a circle and square. The drawing and text are sometimes called the Canon of Proportions or, less often, Proportions of Man. It is stored in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, Italy, but is only displayed on special occasions.
This image exemplifies the blend of art and science during the Renaissance and provides the perfect example of Leonardo's keen interest in proportion. In addition, this picture represents a cornerstone of Leonardo's attempts to relate man to nature. Encyclopaedia Britanica online states, "Leonardo envisaged the great picture chart of the human body he had produced through his anatomical drawings and Vitruvian Man as a cosmografia del minor mondo (cosmography of the microcsm). He believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe." It is also believed by some that Leonardo symbolised the material existence by the square and spiritual existence by the circle. Thus he attempted to depict the correlation between these two aspects of human existence. According to Leonardo's notes in the accompanying text, written in mirror writing, it was made as a study of the proportions of the (male) human body as described in a treatise by the Ancient Roman Architect Vitruvius.