Leonardo da Vinci and bio-inspiration

Bio-inspiration is not entirely our own invention: in the Renaissance, engineers looked at natural forms and were convinced that mimicking nature offered technical solutions to their own problems. Leonardo da Vinci was certainly the most careful observer of nature of his time, and as a result it has become commonplace to judge that he used bio-mimetism as a way to find inspiration. Recently, scientists have claimed that Leonardo was a kind of precursor for bionics ; but the intellectual process of imitation adopted by Leonardo da Vinci has not been fully investigated. This presentation will delve deeper into this issue, looking especially at Leonardo’s imitation of birds, insects and flying fishes in order to study the possibilities of human flight.

Pascal Brioist is Professor of History and researcher at the CESR since 1994; he copmpleted his PhD at the European University Institute in Florence in 1992. A specialist in cultural history and the history of England, his work has dealt mainly with techniques and the history of science, especially through the study of Leonardo da Vinci. He has published several books about Leonardo: Da Vinci Touch (2014), dedicated to the needs of blind people, Léonard de Vinci, homme de guerre (2013), Léonard de Vinci : Arts, sciences et techniques (2011) and Léonard de Vinci, ingénieur et savant (2008).

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception in the Front Hall

6:00pm, 4 May 2018

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London