Research and preliminary proposal

For my project I have narrowed my research to two main fields of interest:

1/ In researching ancient drawing machines, I came across a website that contains replications from an exhibition that belongs to the collection “Theatrum Machinarum” at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Mathematics department. All the models, also the ones reproducing machines that have been largely used in the past (since the 15th century) to carry out a number of different activities (painting, architecture, design, cartography, military art, etc), have been constructed with a “didactical intention, in order to introduce a historical discourse about perspective constructions and the mathematics of central projections”




The perspectograph, in particular, is a famous instrument that allows one to obtain a correct perspective drawing of a threedimensional object. Painters and architects including Leon Battista Alberti in the 16th and 17th centuries used Perspectographs. Some types of perspectographs are very simple (as these reproduced in Dürer’s perspectograph), some types are rather complex.



Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola’s Bi-Dimensional perspectograph (developed between 1527-1545) uses two rulers, one fixed in the vanishing point and the other one in the point at a distance (both on the horizon line), many dead lines (to be deleted after the drawing is finished), which would appear if following the Second Rule, will not be needed. The premise for this device has been reiterated by JH Lambert in 1752 and recently employed for purposes of abstract art rather than perspective by Eske Rex.

2/ Gimbal: I find this device intriguing because it is not clear who invented the object but it has been used countless times in navigational devices, in telescopes, lighting devices, etc.


Drawing of a compass supported by gimbals (1570)

The Gimbal is essentially a pivoted support that allows the rotation of an object about a single axis. A set of three gimbals, one mounted on the other with orthogonal pivot axes, may be used to allow an object mounted on the innermost gimbal to remain independent of the rotation of its support.

The device is beautiful in its construction, as it seems to enact the rotation of the cosmos while allowing itself to be useful in numerous, everyday tasks.

Research and Bibliography

Sawday, Jonathan. Engines of the Imagination: renaissance culture and the rise of the machine. New York: Routledge, 2007.



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