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Surveying the scene, engineering the machine: drawing things together in the Age of Enlightenment

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Sixteenth Annual Hans Rausing Lecture

This talk focuses on the role played by drawing in helping English surveyors and engineers to plan and execute their projects in the eighteenth century. Drawings played a crucial role in calculation, explanation and promotion. Translating three-dimensional terrain and man-made forms of controlling that terrain into a convenient two-dimensional format coterminous with geometry, drawings provided the means of rationalizing and mobilizing the skills of surveyors and engineers, bringing them into the public domain as a true part of the Enlightenment. The great collections of surveying and engineering drawings from the period, consciously gathered together, ordered and preserved by their makers – among them Grundy, Smeaton, Boulton and Watt – are examined not only for the practical purposes they served but also as evidence of professional aggrandizement.

This talk is part of the Rausing Lecture series.

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