Ordering signs in art history: The unique case of the Vitruvian Principle

Thumbnail Image
Gerry, Seth
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Guelph

Although many scholars comment on important concepts in the history of western art in reference to visual clues or textual evidence, there is little attention paid to the individual communicative nature of text and image with respect to these ideas. This thesis is an investigation of the history of the Vitruvian Principle, a concept which proclaims that the proportionality of the human form can be applied to various macrocosmic ideas. This idea is documented visually in the iconic diagram of Leonardo da Vinci's ' Vitruvian Man' (1487) and introduced originally in the text of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio's 'De architectura' (c. 15 BC). This thesis explains that the history of this concept is dictated by its historiography as much by its historiography as it is explained by primary source documentation. Through this methodological approach, it will be shown that the scholarship that constructs this history depends on divorcing text and image for the sake of simplistic analysis, a process which betrays an apparent selective ordering of textual and visual products in different historical periods of art production.

Vitruvian Principle, proportionality, human form, macrocosmic ideas, historiography, art history, communicative nature, text, image