Mathematical Treasures - Marolois on Applications of Mathematics

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Samuel Marolois (1572–1627) was a French military engineer and geometer who spent much of his life working in the service of the Dutch. He is noted as a pioneer in the use of perspective in design, architecture, and the building of fortifications. His writings on these subjects were translated into several languages and widely distributed; often, they were published as collections: Opera mathematica (Latin), Oeuvres mathématique (French), and Mathematische Wercke (German). A collection in German was published in 1629. This Wercke consisted of three volumes: Geometria, Fortification, and Perspectiva. While the title page for the collective volume is not available, each of the individual volumes had an engraved title plate. The title page for Geometria is shown above. Note the bust of the Roman architect Vitruvius (ca 80 BCE–15 BCE), who is considered “The Father of Architecture,” on the arch and the fact that the noted Dutch mathematician Albert Girard (1595–1632) has reviewed and commented on the contents.

The title page for Fortification.

The title page for Perspectiva.

These images from its George Arthur Plimpton Collection are presented through the courtesy of the Columbia University Libraries.

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