Author Caroline Cocciardi discusses her book, Leonardo's Knots, with the Rotary Club of Lake Houston Area members during their luncheon meeting at the Lake Houston Family YMCA on August 25, 2021. Ms. Cocciardi discovered a facet of Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci’s artwork that has been overlooked for centuries but visual to the naked eye. The art book is a showcase of the genius’s ability to combine his expertise in the arts and mathematics, and translate minuscule interlaced knots into a beautiful work of art.
Caroline Cocciardi, documentary film maker and author of the coffee table art book, Leonardo’s Knots, has studied the works of Leonardo da Vinci for over 20 years, including several years in Italy. During her studies she noticed a minuscule and unusual detail in Leonardo’s paintings that no one else had noticed in the last 500 years.
She explained what she found and what she believes it means to Rotarians, guests and surprise visitor Houston Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Martin at the Rotary Club of Lake Houston Area’s luncheon meeting on August 25 at the Lake Houston Family YMCA.

Ms. Cocciardi explained she was visiting a 2010 art exhibit in South Korea which included high resolution digital copies of some of the artist’s works when she noticed an interesting detail in the embroidery on the bodice of the Mona Lisa’s dress that does not match what women wore in the 1500s. The dress’ embroidery looked like a series of tiny interlocking knots. She also noticed that the placement of this embroidery was mathematical, not decorative.
She began to research Leonardo’s other paintings and his writings. She spent years cataloging every Leonardo knot, from the first years he kept his sketch books to his last years looking for preliminary sketches of the Mona Lisa Knot. Ms. Cocciardi discovered the unusual intertwining knots in all of his paintings and found them in his sketch book writings too.
Ms. Cocciardi said she realized the knots must have had some special meaning to Leonardo as the decision to include the knots in his paintings broke all the fashion codes of the day. Since his paintings were usually by consignment, the knots must have been special or he wouldn’t have taken the risk to include them.
The Mona Lisa Knot is a mathematical pattern based on its angular crossing patterns; Ms. Cocciardi explained. In the process of looking in Leonardo’s codices for his preliminary sketches of The Mona Lisa Knot, she discovered he had dedicated a lifetime to his knot art works.
She believes the knots may have been Leonardo’s way to “sign” his paintings as artists signing their paintings was not common during this time period. Or, it’s possible it was one way he could relish his love of mathematics. Although a genius, social convention kept him out of the sciences of the day.
Her newly released art book, Leonardo’s Knots will introduce readers to a facet of the Renaissance painter that was overlooked for centuries yet was present in his artworks: his passion mathematics and the artistry of intertwining knots.
Ms. Cocciardi has lectured for many institutions and museums about Leonardo da Vinci’s knot art. She was in Houston this week to speak at Mensa World Gathering convention.
In 2009, Cocciardi documentary, “Mona Lisa Revealed” was featured at the Carmel Film Festival documenting engineer Pascal Cotte, inventor of the multi-spectral camera that uncovered five centuries of secrets within Leonardo’s iconic Mona Lisa. Cocciardi represented Cotte’s Mona Lisa photographs in a worldwide Leonardo exhibition.
Leonardo’s Knots takes you on a picture journey through Leonardo's career in knots (1480-1518) like you have never seen before. Documented with 142 illustrations Leonardo's evolution from traditional knots (aesthetically appealing and ornamental), to mathematical knots (patterns that tell a story within his art). His combined expertise in art and mathematics gave him the unique ability to translate these miniscule interlaced knots into the visual beauty found in his artworks.
Ms. Cocciardi is a native of Saratoga, California. Her parents, immigrants from Italy, were fruit farmers. She attended San Jose State majoring in interior design. Her husband, Jack, is a home builder/remodeler and they both worked together on home projects for their livelihood. She never dreamed her independent studies of Leonardo da Vinci would one day lead her to be an author, documentary film maker and lecturer on Leonardo’s Knots.
While visiting the Rotary club she made autographed copies of her book available for purchase. Her book is available for sale on Amazon or from her website at
The Rotary Club of Lake Houston Area members and guests meet at 11:45 a.m. Wednesdays for their weekly lunch meeting at the Lake Houston Family YMCA, 2420 West Lake Houston Pkwy in Kingwood.
The Summer Creek Satellite Club meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at 8:30 a.m., at Generation Park 2nd floor board room, 250 Assay St., Houston.
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