We [cannot] persist in seeing Leonardo [da Vinci] as an artist on the one hand and a scientist and technologist on the other. The common response is to suggest that he recognised no divisions between the two….
This doesn’t quite hit the mark, however, because it tacitly accepts that ‘art’ and ‘science’ had the same connotations in Leonardo’s day as they do now. What Leonardo considered arte was the business of making things. Paintings were made by arte, but so were the apothecaries’ drugs and the weavers’ cloth.
…the people who made [paintings] were tradesmen paid to do a job, and manual workers at that. Leonardo … strove to raise the status of painting so that it might rank among the ‘intellectual’ or liberal arts, such as geometry, music, and astronomy.
Scienza, in contrast, was knowledge—but not necessarily that obtained by … experiment…. Medieval scholastics had insisted that knowledge was what appeared in the books of Euclid, Aristotle, Ptolemy, and other ancient writers, and that the learned man was one who had memorized these texts.
The celebrated humanism of the Renaissance did not challenge this idea but merely refreshed it, insisting on returning to the original sources rather than relying on Arabic and medieval glosses.