Janson-La Palme Conference ∙ The Lure of the Machine in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, April 14–15

Friday, April 14, 2023, 9:30 amSaturday, April 15, 2023, 5:00 pm



Event Description

Keynote by Pamela O. Long on Friday April 14 at 4:30pm

Machines between Learning and Practice in Early Modern Europe

In this talk I focus on images of machines and the texts that accompanied them from the 1470s through the mid-sixteenth century. I compare the machine drawings of two contemporaries, the painter/architect/engineer Francesco di Giorgio and Francesco’s younger contemporary, Leonardo da Vinci. Using Francesco’s Trattati and Leonardo’s Madrid Codex I, I explore both the practical and intellectual contexts of machine books and machine drawings. Examples include drawings of cranes, and of machine parts such as gears.  Knowledge traditions include Pseudo-Aristotelian Mechanics, the medieval science of weights, and the influence of Vitruvius’s De architectura and its Book X on machines. Practices include machines for constructing buildings such as cranes and machines for warfare. Traditions of text and image focusing on machines include sixteenth-century Vitruvian commentaries and the “Theaters of Machines,” by Jacques Besson and Agostino Ramelli. This talk will focus on the overlapping interests and multidisciplinary nature of the early modern fascination with machines.

Open to the public and registration requested.

Department of Art & Archaeology