Leonardo da Vinci’s contemporaries
Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501) was one of only a few Sienese artists to become known in other parts of Italy. He worked in the courts of Naples and Milan - where he became strongly influenced by Leonardo da Vinci. He was an architect, painter, sculptor, and military theoretician at a time when Sienese artists were little known outside their native city, he worked at courts in Urbino, Naples, and Milan, where he met Leonardo da Vinci.
Francesco is remembered chiefly as an architect and an architectural theorist. He translated Vitruvius and wrote an original work on architecture anticipating some of the architectural theories of the high Renaissance, Trattato di architettura civile e militare, which discusses city planning and military architecture,
Taccola (1382 – 1453) Created two books of drawings of mechanical devices. He developed a cutaway technique to show parts that were obscured to bring them into view. He also developed the idea of an exploded view to show all parts in an assembly as they would be seen in the right relationship to their neighbours These are all techniques used to this day to make our designs understandable to others
Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446) was one of the leading architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance, and is best known for his work on the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) in Florence. Also as mentioned above the development of Linear perspective a drawing technique used by the Greeks and Romans but lost during the middle ages.
It is quite easy to think of Leonardo being a lone artist-engineer working in isolation in Renaissance Italy. This would however be quite far from the truth, as he was actually standing on the shoulders of many great engineers that preceded him from the middle ages through to the Renaissance.
Brunelleschi, Taccola and Francesco di Giorgio Martini where all prolific in the development of their art, so that the laws of linear perspective developed by Brunelleschi gave his successors a valuable tool to use to develop drawings to depict engineering idea's.
Leonardo's sketch books are perhaps the best known and most developed but the work of those other artist-engineers led the way.
It would seem reasonable to assume that da Vinci had access to technical manuscripts produced earlier in the 15th century, by his predecessors and so they would form a foundation for him develop his ideas in both drawings and text.