More often celebrated as a painter, Piero della Francesca was also a pioneering mathematician. This lecture will discuss Piero's achievements as a mathematician, focusing on his precocious mastery of the teachings of the Greek geometrician Archimedes. Shortly after his death, Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan friar, published two of Piero's treatises under his own name and conveyed Piero's knowledge of geometry to Leonardo da Vinci, who later became an expert in the subject.
James R. Banker
James R. Banker is a social-cultural historian and professor emeritus of Italian Renaissance history at North Carolina State University. He lives for eight months a year in Florence and Sansepolcro, where he continues his research on the Sienese painter Sassetta (d. 1450) and Piero della Francesca, especially the latter's writings on geometry and proportion. He has published on Sassetta's execution of a specific set of instructions from his Franciscan patrons, Piero della Francesca's development as an artist, Piero's fascination with Archimedes (evident in his copying of the Greek's Opere), and the context and painting of Piero's altarpieces. Banker's books and articles on these subjects are primarily based on his discovery of previously unknown documents. Banker has completed a soon-to-be-released study of the life and art of Piero and another publication on all the known documents on the painter.
Professor emeritus of Italian Renaissance history James Banker retells how artist Piero della Francesca mastered the irregular bodies of Greek mathematician Archimedes without formal training, and Banker highlights how Francesca even solved a famous Archimedean problem.