Conversation between Taccola and Brunelleschi

by sunil on January 23, 2016

Taccola recorded Brunelleschi’s comments in a careful and authentic style that suggests we are reading something very close to the actual words of the master architect:

Pippo Brunelleschi of the great and mighty city of Florence, a singularly honored man, famous in several arts, gifted by God especially in architecture, a most learned inventor of devices in mechanics, was kind enough to speak to me in Siena, using these words: Do not share your inventions with many, share them only with few who understand and love the sciences. To disclose too much of one’s inventions and achievements is one and the same thing as to give up the fruit of one’s ingenuity. Many are ready, when listening to the inventor, to belittle and deny his achievements, so that he will no longer be heard in honorable places, but after some months or a year they use the inventor’s words, in speech or writing or design. They boldly call themselves the inventors of the things that they first condemned and attribute the glory of another to themselves. There is also the great big ingenious fellow, who, having heard of some innovation or invention never known before, will find the inventor and his idea most surprising and ridiculous. He tells him: Go away, do me the favor and say no such things any more—you will be esteemed a beast. Therefore the gifts given us by God must not be relinquished to those who speak ill of them and who are moved by envy or ignorance. We must do that which wise men esteem to be the wisdom of the strong and ingenious: We must not show to all and sundry the secrets of the waters flowing in ocean and river, or the devices that work on these waters. Let there be convened a council of experts and masters in mechanical arts to deliberate what is needed to compose and construct these works. Every person wishes to know of the proposals, the learned and the ignorant; the learned understands the work proposed—he understands at least something, partly or fully—but the ignorant and inexperienced understands nothing, not even when things are explained to them. Their ignorance moves them promptly to anger; they remain in their ignorance because they want to show themselves learned, which they are not, and they move the other ignorant crowd to insistence on its own poor ways and to scorn for those who know. Therefore the blockheads and ignorants are a great danger for the aqueducts, the means of forcing the waters, their ascending and descending both subterranean and terrestrial, and the building in water and over the water, be it salt or fresh. Those who know these things are much to be loved, but those who do not are even more to be avoided, and the headstrong ignorant should be sent to war. Only the wise should form a council, since they are the honor and glory of the republic. Amen. • 

~ The Feud that the Renaissance, Philip Robert Walker.

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