Piero della Francesca (c. 1415 – October 12, 1492) was an Italian artist of the Early Renaissance. To contemporaries, he was known as a mathematician and geometer as well as an artist, though now he is chiefly appreciated for his art. His painting was characterized by its serene humanism and its use of geometric forms, particularly in relation to perspective and foreshortening. Most of his work was produced in the Tuscan town of Arezzo.
His deep interest in the theoretical study of perspective and his contemplative approach to his paintings are apparent in all his work. Three treatises written by Piero are known to modern mathematicians: Abacus Treatise (Trattato d'Abaco), Short Book on the Five Regular Solids (Libellus de Quinque Corporibus Regularibus) and On Perspective for Painting (De Prospectiva Pingendi). The subjects covered in these writings include arithmetic, algebra, geometry and innovative work in both solid geometry and perspective. Much of Piero’s work was later absorbed into the writing of others, notably Luca Pacioli. Piero’s work on solid geometry appears in Pacioli’s De Divina Proportione, a work illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci.
In the Treatise, very likely written between 1472 and 1475 and dedicated to his patron - the Duke of Urbino, a number of perspective reduction problems are proposed, from the simplest ones to the more complex ones, conceived so as to introduce gradually to the new technique, through practical demonstrations. The Artist poses a number of queries which are answered with the construction of the perspective by means of geometrical drawings and illustrations. The one-hundred autograph drawings of Piero are elements that undoubtedly give an extra value to this work of remarkable historical, artistic and scientific importance.
The precious facsimile, made by Aboca Editions, reproduces the Treatise stored in the Panizzi Library in Reggio Emilia, with all the majesty of the noble binding and of the one-hundred autograph drawings of Piero della Francesca. The stochastic process print was used on Magnani "Velata" paper 100g/m2. The text-block is sewn on three raised thongs with cotton thread and the binding is made of half sheep leather with seasoned beech boards and brass clasps. The limited print-run of 999 copies is numbered and certified.
The critical commentary explores the innovative "lessons in perspective" by Piero della Francesca. The thorough scientific analysis, made simple and comprehensible by the expert authors, is illustrated with a series of charming and eloquent images. In his essay: "Piero della Francesca, Painting and Perspective", Massimo Mussini, art historian and authority on the problems in painting, identifies the artist’s practical application of the rules of perspective in his paintings. Luigi Grasselli, mathematician and expert of algebraic and geometric topology, analyses and comments on the drawings by Piero in his essay entitled "La geometria del De Prospectiva Pingendi". Manuscript and commentary are boxed together in an elegant black box.