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Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

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The 'Vitruvian Man' is a famous drawing with accompanying notes by Leonardo da Vinci made around the year 1492 in one of his journals. It depicts a naked 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 on display in the Gallerie dell' Accademia in Venice, Italy.

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**“…the length of a man's outspread arms is equal to his height …”**

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 by the Ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, who wrote that in the human body: Arm Span Height “…the length of a man's outspread arms is equal to his height …”

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**Height is equal to arm span**

The Vitruvian theory contains a total of 10 ratios between different parts of the body. Can you verify four of these ratios using data collected from your class? Here is a reminder of the first: Height is equal to arm span Arm Span Height

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2. Length from the elbow to the end of the hand is equal to one quarter of height Elbow to end of hand Height

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**Length of the hand is one tenth of height**

3. Length of the hand is one tenth of height Hand Height 4. Length of the foot is one seventh of height Foot

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**Is the Vitruvian theory that height is equal to arm span true for British students today?**

Complete the following tables by making the appropriate measurements of yourself and your classmates.

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**Height is equal to arm span**

Pupil Gender Height Arm Span Ratio Height / Arm Span M or F centimetres Fraction * Decimal 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 * Leave fraction un-simplified Click in a cell to enter data

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**Elbow to hand is equals one quarter of height**

Pupil Gender Height Elbow to Hand Ratio Height / Elbow to Hand M or F centimetres Fraction * Decimal 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 * Leave fraction un-simplified Click in a cell to enter data

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**Length of the hand is one tenth of height**

Pupil Gender Height Hand Length Ratio Height / Hand M or F centimetres Fraction * Decimal 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 * Leave fraction un-simplified Click in a cell to enter data

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**Length of the foot is one seventh of height**

Pupil Gender Height Foot Length Ratio Height / Foot M or F centimetres Fraction * Decimal 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 * Leave fraction un-simplified Click in a cell to enter data

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**Some questions to think about…**

What do you notice from the table of data? Which pupils most closely fit Leonardo’s theory? Not everybody has an arm span / height ratio equal to 1. Why do you think this is? Do you think the results would be the same for babies or seniors? Who might be interested in your conclusions?

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