Leonardo and the Freemasons

In discussing the first English translation of Leonardo’s Trattato in 1721, I had a faint idea that it might be connected to the early development of freemasonry because I remembered that John Senex, the bookseller, globemaker and mapmaker, who published the translation, was also the publisher of James Anderson’s Constitutions of the Free-Masons in 1723.   Indeed, he was.   Senex was an ardent Newtonian as well as freemason and was keen to promote the practice of experimental science based through his publications.   In 1721, he also published a translation of the work of Claude Perrault on the Order of five species of columns according to the method of the ancient.  But, as Harry Mount brilliantly suggested in his paper in the conference yesterday, the application of a rigorously experimental method to the practice of architecture and fine art had very limited success in the era of Lord Shaftesbury and Palladianism.

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