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Human Proportions Established Through Mythological Figures

Major collection: Hart Nautical
Named collection: Allan Forbes Collection
Object type: engraving
Maker: Egbertus; Thibault, Gérard
Place made: Netherlands, South Holland, Leiden
Date made: 1628
Materials: paper; ink; mounting
Measurements: 19 1/2 in x 27 3/4 in
Nomenclature: mythology
Classification: religion

Plate from Gérard Thibault's L'académie de l'espée (Leiden, 1628). As a manual on fencing for noblemen, L'académie de l'espée explicated on the geometrical arguments regarding the choreography of swordsmanship. The book belonged to the same tradition as Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, which asserted that the ideal human body could be inscribed in a circle, and that the length of a body part could be calculated as fractions of the length of the body. Thibault called his circle of fencing rules the "mysterious circle." Fencing reflected the harmonious structure of the human body, and also had astrological and cosmic associations. The engraving depicts various mythological figures with the twelve signs of the zodiac and allegories of the Sun and the Moon on the sides, emphasizing how the human body and stars are governed by the same mathematical rules.