Leslie Geddes specializes in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture. Her research broadly concerns how early modern artists studied and depicted the natural landscape. Her work investigates the interrelation of art and science, specifically how early modern artists, architects, engineers, and cartographers observed, measured, rendered, and shaped the world around them.
Her book, Watermarks: Leonardo da Vinci and the Mastery of Nature (Princeton University Press, 2020), examines the work of Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) and his peers to analyze the subject of water in art in conjunction with the practical undertakings of hydraulic engineering. A revision of her prize-winning dissertation, the book was awarded subventions from the Barr Ferree Publication Fund and Tulane’s School of Liberal Arts.
Her current book project, Weapons of Atlas: The Art and Science of Early Modern Cartography (1580–1650), foregrounds how mechanical instruments and art theory in tandem had profound implications for map design in Italy and beyond. The expanding world required firsthand observation, oftentimes aided by tools, and effective means of transcribing and interpreting terrain. Key to map production, the use of optical devices and measuring instruments, i.e., the compass and rule, magnetic compasses, astrolabes, and sextants, shaped habits of visualization formed through the use of pen and ink. In turn, artistic representation provided an expressive pictorial idiom for synthesizing the quantitative assessment and visual apprehension of land and sea. This new research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (The Newberry Library), a Tulane Georges Lurcy Affiliated Fellowship (American Academy in Rome), the Huntington Library, and the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at the Villa I Tatti.
Prior to coming to Tulane in 2015, she was a curatorial research assistant at the Morgan Library & Museum and a bibliographer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She received her Ph.D. in the history of art from Princeton University in 2014. She has been invited to present lectures in Chicago, Florence, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Ottawa, Rochester, Turin, and elsewhere.
Professor Geddes is as an affiliated faculty member of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Program as well as the Environmental Studies Program at Tulane. Her teaching interests include Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture; landscape theory; the reception of antiquity; the history of science and scientific illustration (including cartography); artistic rivalries; the art of Rome; prints and the history of the book; and old master drawings. She warmly welcomes working with graduate students interested in these and related topics.
In 2020–2021, Professor Geddes is the Robert Lehman Fellow at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at the Villa I Tatti in Florence.
Watermarks: Leonardo da Vinci and the Mastery of Nature (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2020).
Catalogue entry in Marcantonio Raimondi, Raphael and the Image Multiplied, exh. cat., edited by Edward H. Wouk (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016), 192–93.
"Drawing Bridges: Leonardo da Vinci on Mastering Nature." In Illuminating Leonardo: A Festschrift for Carlo Pedretti Celebrating His 70 Years of Leonardo Scholarship (1944–2014), edited by Constance Moffatt and Sara Taglialagamba, 278–92. Leonardo Studies 1. Leiden: Brill, 2016.
“‘Infinite Slowness and Infinite Velocity’: The Representation of Time and Motion in Leonardo's Studies of Geology and Water." In Leonardo on Nature, edited by Alessandro Nova and Fabio Frosini, 269–83. Studi e Ricerche 11. Venice: Marsilio, 2015.
Ph.D. Thesis Committees
Facing Pilgrimage: Tenon Head Sculptures at the Ceremonial Center of Chavín de Huántar, Peru (reader, in progress)
“Out of the fragments…new worlds”: Perspectival Experiments and Spatiality in the Work of Diego Rivera, 1913-1933 (reader, in progress)
M.A. Thesis Committees
The Art of Erasure: Portrait of a Woman of Color of Antebellum New Orleans (examiner, 2019)
Heavenly Perspectives: Imagining Celestial Space in Giovanni di Paolo’s Paradiso Miniatures (examiner, 2019)
Becoming “Brazilian”: The Brazilian Cultural Performance in Henry II’s 1550 Entry into Rouen (examiner, 2019)
Marking Place, Making History: The Shifting Narrative Structures of the Codex Xolotl (examiner, 2017)
The Early Career of John Gadsby Chapman (examiner, 2016)
The Emulative Copy: Andrea del Sarto’s 1525 Pope Leo X with Two Cardinals (examiner, 2016)
Undergraduate Independent Study Project Advisor
Vesalius and the Medical Art (Spring 2018)
Undergraduate Honors Thesis Advisor Committee Member
Visual Activism in the Photography of Carrie Mae Weems (examiner, 2020)
Between Two Worlds: Cy Twombly’s Nine Discourses on Commodus (examiner, 2019)