The Museo del Tessuto in Prato will present an exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci. The exhibition highlights Da Vinci’s interest, sensitivity and ingenuity by exploring the artist’s study and optimisation of devices and machinery for textile production, one of the predominant economic activities of his time. The Prato Museo del Tessuto Foundation organised the exhibition in collaboration with the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan and the Museo Leonardiano in Vinci. It is also supported by the prestigious sponsorship and contribution of Italy’s National Committee to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.
The initiative aims to effectively promote understanding and awareness of Da Vinci's inventions through 3D reconstructions, multimedia systems and scale models. It also presents an opportunity to appreciate the importance of mechanical engineering and its application in the textile industry. This element firmly links the exhibition to the history of the Prato district which, as is well-known, has been operating without interruption for over 9 centuries. Still today, the Prato district represents the largest manufacturing district in the textile-clothing sector in Europe, both in terms of the number of employees (about 35,000) and companies (around 6,500).
The exhibition itinerary begins with the first section featuring large-scale reproductions of selected paintings by Da Vinci. The portraits and religious subjects featured in the exhibition are interpreted through a new and unusual perspective that highlights Da Vinci’s drapery studies and his observations for a better painterly rendering of the texture of cloth and the movement of folds in relation to different types of fabric. The paintings also reveal Da Vinci's focus on decorating the garments, interpreted by the famous "knots" that further testify to his "universal and philosophical" approach to nature.
During their visit, visitors will also be accompanied by a sound installation created by Giorgio Ferrero and Rodolfo Mongitore from Minus&Plus, inspired by an imaginary score that draws inspiration from Leonardo's musical instrument projects. The cyclical nature of the composition references motors, repetitions and the circular mechanisms found within 'Da Vinci's knot,' while the raw material used as the basis of the inventions resonates in the concreteness of the dull sound of wood.
In the second section of the exhibition, a spectacular set-up evokes the mechanisms of the toothed wheels present in Leonardo's drawings and introduces his studies on devices and machines.
In addition to Da Vinci’s studies on mechanics, engineering and architecture, during his stay in Milan, he was also dedicated to studying the textile industry. In Lombardy during the fifteenth century, the textile industry experienced a significant expansion thanks to the court of the Visconti, followed by the Sforza family.