RANDOLPH, NJ- Just over 500 years after Leonardo da Vinci’s death, data scientists from West Point worked with Shongum Elementary Art Teacher Maura Boucher to remeasure the proportions of his famous drawing the Vitruvian Man. The study’s intended goal was to bring together art, history, modern technology and data science to examine one of the most well-known drawings in the world.
Maura Boucher was a collaborator with the research team on the study. She was grateful that this study was able to demonstrate the practical applications of art to other disciplines. “People think that art and mathematics are disparate fields and do not realize how closely related they are,” Ms. Boucher said. “I felt at home working with the data scientists and transferring their analysis to images we can compare visually.”
West Point (USMA) data scientists upgraded Leonardo da Vinci’s manually measured human bodies by using automatically assessed measurements from over 63,000 Air Force basic training recruits. The participants were scanned using a 3D body image device for the purpose of uniform sizing.
West Point Assistant Professor Major David Galbreath and the team of researchers were surprised that the results of the study conflicted with their initial hypothesis. “We expected to see differences in the proportions, but were surprised to see how close they were,” Major Galbreath said. “Leonardo da Vinci did not have the precise measurement tools we have today and concepts like sample means and standard deviations were developed long after his time. Yet our final proportions were not that different than his conclusions.”
While the study aimed to study the Vitruvian Man, the team was also able to create a first of its kind Vitruvian Woman. Leonardo da Vinci had drawn women, most famously the Mona Lisa, however it did not appear that women were included in his anatomy studies. They found from their research that the proportions for Leonardo da Vinci’s men were surprisingly similar for women.
To learn more about the Vitruvian Man study, please visit the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA):