Renaissance Technology - Technical Drawings of Artist-engineers

Technical Drawings of Artist-engineers

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The revived scientific spirit of the age can perhaps be best exemplified by the voluminous corpus of technical drawings which the artist-engineers left behind, reflecting the wide variety of interests the Renaissance Homo universalis pursued. The establishment of the laws of linear perspective by Brunelleschi gave his successors, such as Taccola, Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Leonardo da Vinci, a powerful instrument to depict mechanical devices for the first time in a realistic manner. The extant sketch books give modern historians of science invaluable insights into the standards of technology of the time. Renaissance engineers showed a strong proclivity to experimental study, drawing a variety of technical devices, many of which appeared for the first time in history on paper.

However, these designs were not always intended to be put into practice, and often practical limitations impeded the application of the revolutionary designs. For example, da Vinci's ideas on the conical parachute or the winged flying machine were only applied much later. While earlier scholars showed a tendency to attribute inventions based on their first pictorial appearance to individual Renaissance engineers, modern scholarship is more prone to view the devices as products of a technical evolution which often went back to the Middle Ages.

Technology Date Author Treatise Comment
Pile driver 1475 Francesco di Giorgio Martini Trattato di Architectura Drawing of such a device whose principle must be according to the Brazilian historian of technology Ladislao Reti "considered original with Franceso".
Centrifugal pump 1475 Francesco di Giorgio Martini Trattato di Architectura Water or mud-lifting machine "that must be characterized as the prototype of the centrifugal pump".

Read more about this topic:  Renaissance Technology

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