On the Sphere and the Cylinder; On the Measurement of the Circle; On Conoids and Spheroids; On Spirals; On the Equilibrium of Planes; On the Quadrature of the Parabola; The Sand Reckoner


In the middle of the 15th century, a number of manuscripts by the third-century BC Greek mathematician Archimedes began to circulate in the humanistic centers in the courts of Italy. Piero della Francesca (circa 1416–92), the Renaissance artist best known for the frescos he painted for the Vatican and for the chapels in Arezzo, transcribed a copy of a Latin translation of Archimedes’s geometry (a compilation of seven surviving treatises) and illustrated it with more than 200 drawings representing the  mathematical theorems in the texts. This manuscript, long in the holdings of the Biblioteca Riccardiana in Florence, was only recently attributed to Piero by James Banker, an American scholar studying the transmission of Archimedes’s geometry from the classical age. The manuscript, probably created by Piero in the late 1450s, is comprised of 82 folio leaves that shed significant light on Piero’s work, not only as an artist but as a student of mathematics and geometry. Many of the illustrations in the margins capture the artist’s skill at rendering complex geometrical figures into discernible forms. The simple, well-placed lines of the geometric forms in the manuscript represent an essential element of the artist’s work and offer insights into his imaginative use of space and perspective to reproduce three-dimensional objects on canvas and paper.


Title in Original Language

De sphaera et cilindro ; Dimensio circoli ; De conoidibus et sphaeroidibus ; De lineis spiralibus ; De planorum equilibriis ; Quadratura parabolae ; Arenarius


Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

82 folios ; 285 x 208 millimeters

Last updated: March 19, 2013