I examine intersections of the practical arts and natural philosophy during the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries. As a specialist on the working methods and intellectual interests of artist/engineers, I locate cross-disciplinary investigative and inventive solutions in the histories of ideas, science and technology.
Much of this work addresses histories of artisan notebooks and the art academy, particularly with regard to developments of knowledge. Although I focus on early modern Italy, my research has extended beyond core subjects to developments of the following courses: the science of art, history of medicine, history of collecting, princely courts, the Grand Tour, British history, architectural history, historiography, philosophy, transcultural objects, South Asian art, illuminated manuscripts, paradoxes in visual culture, and modern art. I've also worked on a broad range of exhibitions, recently curating for the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in 2010 and 2013 shows on Leonardo da Vinci's unfinished books on military and civil engineering.
Current projects include the co-editing of a volume of essays by historians of art and science on their comparative approaches to shared disciplines in the past forty years, especially with regard to changes in historiography, hermeneutics, conservation, restoration, and the histories of medicine, technology, engineering and architecture. For an essay on Carlo Urbino's 'Rules of Design' (c. 1560-80), I will offer new evidence of the late sixteenth century shift in approach to Leonardo da Vinci's advice to painters. This is part of a larger project to reconstruct elements of Leonardo's extensive treatise programme on the human condition, along with its context, development, form and organization. Two additional directions of this research include the uses of proportion theories in early modern visual and technical arts, as well as the general history of representations of human proportions, within contexts of the histories of ideas and the human condition.