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Thames and Hudson

Leonardo and the Artes Mechanicae


Book - Mature Age

In Vinci, the town where Leonardo was born and where he drew early inspiration for his studies and paintings, the Leonardo Museum gathers the machines and models that document Leonardo's interest in war, architecture, mechanics and flight. This beautifully illustrated volume discovers the multiple interests of Leonardo the technologist, the architect, the man of science and, more generally, the history of Renaissance techniques.

The book sets out to grasp the historic significance of Leonardo's work as a "mechanic", reconstructing his involvement in certain dynamics - played out between the time of Piero della Francesca and the early Galilei - of the knowledge and practices of the mechanical arts. In Florence, these were considered of great economic importance for the city, although the more refined Florentine humanists, like Poliziano, had classified them among the "sordid" and "sedentary" arts: building sites, mills, factories. Within this long-term perspective, the book examines the changes wrought by Leonardo on the main body of knowledge of the technicians, the "practice of geometry"; the sophisticated development of technical drawing and the use of scale models. Some new hypotheses are also presented regarding the functioning and use of the building-site machines designed by Brunelleschi for the construction of the cupola of Florence Cathedral.

Marco Biffi (Author), Fabio Giusberti (Author), Alexander Neuwahl (Author), Davide Russo (Author), Romano Nanni (Editor)