I am Emeritus Research Professor in the History of Art at Oxford University.
I have written and broadcast extensively on imagery in art and science from the Renaissance to the present day. I speak on issues of visualisation to a wide range of audiences. Leonardo da Vinci has been the subject of a number of books, including Leonardo (Oxford University Press, 2004) and the semi-autobiographical Living with Leonardo (Thames & Hudson, 2018). I have published on imagery in the sciences of anatomy, natural history and optics, including The Science of Art: Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat (Yale University Press).
I was educated at Windsor Grammar School, and was trained in Natural Sciences and Art History at Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. I was British Academy Wolfson Research Professor (1993–98). For more than 25 years I was based in Scotland (University of Glasgow and University of St Andrews). I have held visiting posts in Princeton, New York, North Carolina, Los Angeles and Montreal.
I have has curated and co-curated a series of exhibitions on Leonardo and other themes, including Spectacular Bodies at the Hayward Gallery in London, Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, Design at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2006 and Seduced: Sex and Art from Antiquity to Now, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 2007. I was also guest curator for Circa 1492 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1992. I have broadcast extensively and presented concerts.
I am now full-time writing, speaking and broadcasting.
I have been a keen player of ball games, in particular hockey. I captained the Scottish first division team, Western, and the West District side. As an Englishman, I did not qualify for the Scottish national team. But I may not have been good enough anyway.