Monday, July 09, 2007

Two Engineers of the Renaissance: Besson and Ramelli

In 1948 Francois Russo presented an article about a "great fad" of the late 16th and 17th centuries: the Theatres de machines et instruments. He went to great pains to separate these works from earlier mining works such as those of Agricola or Biringuccio. Russo specifically discusses two authors: Besson and Ramelli. He notes that there are few details on the lives of either Besson or Ramelli and goes on to note that while some of Ramelli's machines are mechanically viable, Besson's designs lack both reality and graphical consistency. The entire article is less than five pages long.

The state of scholarship has changed considerably. We now know a great deal about the life of Besson and have much more information about some of the particularities of Ramelli's life; it's time to update Russo's account.


Francois Russo, "Deux ingenieurs de la renaissance: Besson et Ramelli," Thales (1948), pp. 108-12

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