Sara Taglialagamba

Art historian with a deep knowledge of life and works of Leonardo Da Vinci.

PhD: University of Siena (2007-2010) Thesis: Stoldo Lorenzi. Per aspera ad astra, a monograph of an unknown XVI century sculptor, who combined ideas taken from Leonardo with a lesson from Michelangelo.

MA: University of Pisa (1997-2004) The Grotesque for Leonardo, a thesis that inaugurates my love for Da Vinci.

“Due to this research, I have studied in depth, construction sites of Castello, Boboli Garden, Pratolino and their marvellous hydraulic devices and fountains. Since 2003, I have had the honour of being the assistant to Carlo Pedretti with whom I am collaborating on many projects in Europe and America. Meanwhile, I am conducting my studies on Leonardo working in specific fields such as automation, clockwork, engineering devices and robotics. I obtained my degree at Scuola di Specializzazione at the University of Siena in History of Science (2004-2010) reconstructing the history of the workshop of Della Volpaia; a Florentine family of clock masters and experts of astronomical instruments. In 2010, I published a book in which I propose to read a sketched drawing of Leonardo’s first robot as the prototype for a tambourine. My intuitions were confirmed thanks to my study of the device that is part of the automation; which can give a syncopated rhythm, the one used by tambourines themselves. My discovery was awarded a special prize at the Techno Fest Science Festival in Mumbai, India. It also received a special mention in Scientific American magazine (October 2010.) It is about the history of robots built at NASA as the first prototype for Western culture. This research led me to assess that fountains and hydraulic devices are the match point between Leonardo’s hydraulic studies and his outstanding discoveries in the fields of mechanics, clockwork, automation and robotics.

I received the Trent R. Dames Civil Engineering History Fellow at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California to study a manuscript on hydraulics written by the Milanese engineer, Giovanni Sitoni. Continuing my interests in hydraulics, I have studied the conducts of the Medicean aqueduct in Pisa for my forthcoming book Il Principe, la città e l’acqua. L’acquedotto mediceo a Pisa. As a continuation of my previous researches, I will present my Post PhD thesis on Leonardo da Vinci’s hydraulic systems and fountains for his French patrons Louis XII, Charles d’Amboise and Francis I. Models, influences and reprises featured in the Art of Garden Design at the Ècole Pratiques des Hautes Etudes (Paris, Sorbonne) under the direction of Madame Sabine Frommel. My academic studies in Paris led me to the investigation of the connections between Italy and France that I reiterated in the summer fellowship at UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Los Angeles. During this time, I was also working on the diplomatic and cultural relationships between Italy and France during XV and XVI century in Italian manuscripts found in California’s collections. I hold a scholarship at the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento in Florence and am currently writing my thesis on The origin of the concept of garden as an aesthetic expression of beauty through art and nature in the Laurentian era.

I offer advice to Gabriele Niccolai and Giuseppe Manisco; excellent experts in the reconstruction of Leonardo’s models and machines. Recently, Carlo Pedretti and I published the National Editions of the drawings and manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci for Giunti and Treccani with the contributions of I 100 disegni più belli di Leonardo dalle collezioni di tutto il mondo (Firenze, 2012) and I 100 disegni più belli di Leonardo dalle collezioni di tutto il mondo. Studi di macchine e strumenti scientifici (Firenze, 2014). For 2016, we are doing the third volume on Leonardo. La Scienza Universale: Architettura e Anatomia. For my works with contemporary artists, I have written several articles on Action Painting, Richard Avedon, Jamie Haydon (Malibu Magazine, 2010). I have curated the catalogue for the solo exhibition of the sculptor Mattia Biagi (Milan, Skira, 2010). I am collaborating with professor and art critic Giovanni Faccenda with several projects, and I am also an advisor for Edizioni Mondadori to discover new visual artists: sculptors,, painters and photographers. I am going to be the curator of the exhibition of the Australian painter Peter Boogs at Palazzo Pitti, Florence, in 2016.”