Monday, 31 October 2011

comments on La Bella Principessa

One of the problems on the web is that anyone can set themselves up as an authority and purport to produce "historical" arguments without any sense of the status of evidence and methods of demonstration. A recent example is
Barford cobbles together bits from some press discussions, which he then uses as the basis of a series of arbitrary assertions. He has not looked at the full evidence available on the website of the Leonardo da Vinci Society or on the Lumiere Technology website. Codicology (the study of the compilation of codices) is something that needs to be thought through very systematically. The web, and, indeed all electronic means of communication, exhibit a tendency to foster ill-researched polemics that masquerade as objective reviewing of evidence. I have submitted a comment, which is subject to Barford's editing. It will be interesting to see if he posts it.


  1. Hmm, a blog is a blog, not "research" or the pronouncements of any "authority". I am a archaeologist and was trying to make sense out of what had been presented in the press about this. I commented on a discussion on a topic concerning Poland that was going on in newspaper articles in the UK and which interested me. I'd come across your claims about this drawing quite a while ago, and was not convinced then, to see Poland dragged into the discussion intrigued me.

    I wrote on 28th September; when was the Birkbeck college pdf posted? (it is undated). It did not turn up in any search engine when I looked up "La Bella Principessa" on two search engines, I really cannot discuss anything that is not visible, can I?

    In it, you do not explain how you can measure the thickness of vellum glued to a board (which elsewhere anyway you say has shrunk), nor do the spectral results convince (why only two controls?). Likewise your own photographs show you putting this facsimile in different places in the book in the same way as the newspaper photos. Your renumbering of the folios is a bit confusing when the only concordance is the tiny letters on one Figure.

    If the LBP drawing was removed when the volume was rebound, as you suggest, why was a botched attempt made to remove it from the volume, instead of neatly bisecting the sheet when it was loose of the binding?

    I cannot "edit" comments, but somehow when I approved yours for publication, it disappeared. But I've updated the original article to contain it. I am sure we all look forward to seeing the full publication of the results.

  2. Dear Professor Kemp.

    Surely you would agree there are ill-researched polemics in all media, they're perhaps just easier to find on the web due to the advent of search engines?!

    I think we would all do better to focus on the evidence, as opposed to engaging those who have not adequately reviewed it.

    Kind Regards, and best wishes for your blog.