<title> SUMMARY </title>Physiognomics is included by Leonardo among the matters to be treated in his book of anatomy. In this context embriology provides physiognomics with a scientific explanation through the theory of the generative soul (virtus formativa) which directly produces the detailed form of each individual body or compositio. Unlike the well-known medical concept of complexio, compositio concerns the solid parts of the body and it is a part of a physiological and psychological theory alternative to the humoral one. Leonardo appears to be influenced by a scholastic tradition of biology represented by authors such as Albertus Magnus and the fifteenth-century Bolognese doctor Hieronymo Manfredi.
The paper examines how images, technological-artistic knowledge and theories interacted with each other in early modern geology. Casting techniques provided Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) with an analogical model for the study of fossils, which he expounded using only texts and theories, not images. For painter Agostino Scilla, on the other hand, images of fossils and animals (La Vana speculazione disingannata dal senso, Napoli, 1670) were the key-feature of his approach, intentionally limited to the external aspects of the specimen, the very domain of the painter. Theories and microscopic examination of the internal aspects orientated Robert Hooke’s visual comparisons in Micrographia (London, 1665), aimed at demonstrating the organic origin of fossils, while, in the same period, visual comparisons were used to support opposite interpretations of fossils as well, like in the case of Francesco Stelluti.
Starting from the analysis of Martin Rudwick’s pionieristic The emergence of a visual language for geological science (1976), this Introduction tries to assess how Rudwick’s suggestions were received by a comprehensive review of what has been published on the topic of visual culture in the earth sciences. The analysis includes studies dealing with maps, sections, landscapes, representations of specimens. We show how historians’ curiosity about cartography has grown constantly (e.g. Kenneth Taylor and David Oldroyd). The studies on geological sections include, among others, Rudwick (2005 and 2008), Gordon Craig and Kerry Magruder and recent contributions dealing with Leonardo da Vinci and Athanasius Kircker. The consideration of essays focused on geological views and landscapes include an overview of the outcomes and limits of studies devoted to the representations of the Vesuvius. Studies dealing with the pictures of rocks, minerals and fossils are considered in their relationships with the results of general works on pictures of natural specimens. The review ends with studies by art historians in the field of geological iconography and pointing out less studied aspects and possible future developments, from the modes of visualising data that have arisen with the introduction of digital technologies to the need of a better studies of geological iconography before the 18th century, a period which the studies collected in this issue of Nuncius are concentrated on.