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Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452-May 2, 1519) is the paradigm of a Renaissance man, or polymath. A painter, sculptor, engineer, inventor, mathematician, scientist, architect, botanist, writer, musician, and anatomist, da Vinci is widely considered to be one of the greatest artists in the history of art. Primarily renowned for his paintings and drawings, da Vinci was influential during the High Renaissance, living and working in Florence, Milan, Roman, Bologna, and Venice. In addition to his incredible contributions to painting, he has recently been praised for his technological ingenuity, as his inventions and discoveries range from advances in anatomy and physiology to the conceptualization of helicopters. 500 years after the height of his career, da Vinci remains the subject of relentless curiosity and admiration. His Mona Lisa, Last Supper, Vitruvian Man, and John the Baptist are some of the most iconic images today, and cannot be ignored as emblems of the Western artistic tradition.
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Based on the work of the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man is one of is best-known works. Drawn with ink on paper with a wash, the drawing displays the male figure in two positions circumscribed within geometrical shapes. Accompanied by da Vinci's meticulous notes on human anatomy and their relationships to proportional geometry, da Vinci completed the drawing around 1490. The Vitruvian Man, also referred to as The Canon of Proportions, is the perfect exemplar of da Vinci's varied interests and myriad talents, fascinated as he was with science and the human body. His notes, found at the top and bottom of the paper and written in his now-famous mirror writing, pertain to both Vitruvius's observations about human measurements as well as his own notes on proportions. The drawing has resided in the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice since 1815, and has since been the subject of many studies and critical discussions, even including a medical examination by the Imperial College London.