My inaugural lecture as a Professor of the Dublin Institute of Technology in September 2008 was the highlight of my career and I spent a lot of time preparing for it. I wanted to refer to Pietro Perugino’s painting of ‘Christ handing over the keys to St. Peter’ from the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican, 1482, and I prepared the illustration as a pencil drawing or study. I had seen and taken photographs of the painting while on a holiday in Rome. I used a straight edge in setting out the square grid base of the scene in perspective, much as I believe the artist and his team must have done. At a later stage I used software to add a small amount of tinting and to superimpose silhouettes of some of the foreground characters of the original painting.
I set out to complete the diagram quite roughly. Preparing it in detail, as an engineer might do, would have been too great an undertaking in the context of what was needed. I found, however, that I was drawn into the detail and into an appreciation of the mastery of that detail in the original work. My study contains visual contradictions in the detail. In Perugino’s masterpiece there is a wonderful harmony of science, technology, architecture and art.