1st Edition

Visual Culture and Mathematics in the Early Modern Period

ISBN 9780367334161
Published April 17, 2019 by Routledge
204 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations

USD $49.95

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Book Description

During the early modern period there was a natural correspondence between how artists might benefit from the knowledge of mathematics and how mathematicians might explore, through advances in the study of visual culture, new areas of enquiry that would uncover the mysteries of the visible world. This volume makes its contribution by offering new interdisciplinary approaches that not only investigate perspective but also examine how mathematics enriched aesthetic theory and the human mind. The contributors explore the portrayal of mathematical activity and mathematicians as well as their ideas and instruments, how artists displayed their mathematical skills and the choices visual artists made between geometry and arithmetic, as well as Euclid’s impact on drawing, artistic practice and theory. These chapters cover a broad geographical area that includes Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, France and England. The artists, philosophers and mathematicians whose work is discussed include Leon Battista Alberti, Nicholas Cusanus, Marsilio Ficino, Francesco di Giorgio, Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio, as well as Michelangelo, Galileo, Piero della Francesca, Girard Desargues, William Hogarth, Albrecht Dürer, Luca Pacioli and Raphael.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Ingrid Alexander-Skipnes

Part I: The Mathematical Mind and the Search for Beauty

2. Renaissance Aesthetics and Mathematics

John Hendrix

3. Design Method and Mathematics in Francesco di Giorgio’s Trattati

Angeliki Pollali

4. Mathematical and Proportion Theories in the Work of Leonardo da Vinci and Contemporary Artist/Engineers at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century

Matthew Landrus

Part II: Artists as Mathematicians

5. Durer’s Underweysung der Messung and the Geometric Construction of Alphabets

Rangsook Yoon

6. Circling the Square: The Meaningful Use of Φ and Π in the Paintings of Piero della Francesca

Perry Brooks

Part III: Euclid and Artistic Accomplishment

7. The Point and Its Line: An Early Modern History of Movement

Caroline O. Fowler

8. Between the Golden Ratio and a Semiperfect Solid: Fra Luca Pacioli and the Portrayal of Mathematical Humanism

Renzo Baldasso and John Logan

9. Mathematical Imagination in Raphael’s School of Athens

Ingrid Alexander-Skipnes

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Ingrid Alexander-Skipnes is Lecturer in Art History at the Kunstgeschictliches Institut at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany. She is an Associate Professor Emerita, University of Stavanger, Norway.


"The book represents well the different ways in which art and mathematics became closely intertwined during the Renaissance, and how one discipline became an inspiration for the other. It builds on previous work by Martin Kemp, Judith Field and Alexander Marr and deserves a place in every collection interested in the relations of art and mathematics."

--British Journal for the History of Mathematics

"This book is an important scholarly contribution to the history of early modern art and its relation to science and mathematics."

--The British Journal for the History of Science