Past event

Saints Talk: Dr Francesca Borgo Writing Like Leonardo

Development is delighted to invite you to the next instalment in our Saints Talk series featuring Dr Francesca Borgo.

In the popular imagination, Leonardo da Vinci's mirror writing has come to embody the eccentricity of genius. Over the course of the past two centuries, scholars have advanced practical, biographical, and neurological explanations to solve the ‘riddle' of what is often misleadingly considered to be a form of encryption.

In this talk, Francesca will approach the topic from an unusual angle. Applying art-historical tools to a field that is traditionally the domain of philologists and palaeographers, it examines when and why Leonardo switches the directionality of his script and abandons his characteristic backwards writing, seemingly conceding to the demands of legibility. The talk tackles the orientation of Leonardo's script in relation to rapidly changing ideas about the personal nature of handwriting, the temporality and conventionality of language, its readability, history, and relation to ornament.

Francesca Borgo is a Lecturer in the School of Art History and the Lise Meitner Research Group Leader at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, where she leads the five-year project ‘Decay, Loss and Conservation in Art History'. She is an art historian of early modern Southern Europe with a specialisation in the art and theory of Renaissance Italy.

Before receiving her PhD from Harvard University in 2017, Francesca studied Art History and Conservation at Ca' Foscari University of Venice and the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. She has held residential fellowships at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (2017 to 2018), the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz — Max-Planck-Institut (2013 to 2017), the University of Hamburg (2016), and Villa I Tatti — The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (2015).

Please note this is an exclusively live event will not be available to watch at a later date.

More information on this event