Sienese Artist Engineers

(RobertTrevino? , JeanWood? , MorganThrower? )

Everybody knows about da Vinci and many people know about Brunelleschi. Far fewer people know about the Sienese artist/engineers like Taccola and Francesco di Giorgio Martini. And yet they did some fine art and engineering too. In some sense they represent an interesting intermediate stage between the self-taught engineer (Brunelleschi) and the quansi-scientist/philosopher that da Vinci became. You could do a bio on one of these, look at what they did and how they did it, and how they represent a stage in the evolution.

Francesco di Giorgio's mud extractor machine


  • see attached MS Word at bottom of JeanettesNotebook for writeup on di Giorgio and his works -mrc
  • see attached MS Word file at bottom of MorgansNotebook for writeup on di Giorgio as part of a community of scholars and engineers who started a tradition of "engineering scholarship" with illustrated manuscripts.
  • see BobsBook for attached writeup (and notes from mrc) on the creation of a model of di Giorgio's innovative mud extractor.


_Museo di Storia della Scienza (Firenze) has a website on the Sienese Engineers with various drawings, models, animations of stuff mostly by Taccola and Francesco di Giorgio:

The fifteenth century saw an increased output of treatises dedicated to illustrations of machines for civil and military use. These works were inspired by illustrious classical forebears, like Athenaeus, Philo of Byzantium, Vitruvius, Vegetius, etc. Among the most accomplished and earliest treatise-writers were Mariano di Iacopo, known as Taccola, and Francesco di Giorgio. These two Sienese artist-engineers compiled profusely illustrated texts where one observes the attempt to combine a revival of classical technology with the development of innovative methods and processes. Such texts ushered in a new literary genre: that of "engineers-authors". Their profound impact is attested by their widespread, long-lasting success.
(from Museo website)

See also CompendiumOfMachines (bottom) for images of a bunch of the machines that they drew designs of.

Some references from Morgan's writeup:

Archmagazine bookshop.6 June 2005.

Rinascimento. Jarrard, Alice. RAI International online.

With Leonardo’s Own Marginal Notes. jan hendrik niemeyer.

-- MarkCutkosky - 17 May 2005

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