Revolution in "seeing" and depicting what is viewed.
Changes in drawing, painting, and sculpture from the 12th to 15th century Medieval to Renaissance art in western Europe.
Giotto | Masaccio | Alberti | Michelangelo
Giotto, Last Judgment, 1305: Fresco
At the beginning of the 12th century, as depicted in the above sample of Italian art, there is a depiction of the Book of Revelations without resorting to the employment of perspective. We have become so accustomed to perspective in the portrayal of scenes and people in painting since the European Renaissance, that we may not fully see the difference. So compare the above painting to the Crucifixion, by Masaccio, in the 1420s below to the Giotto fresco painting of the Last Judgment above.
Perspective is a western artistic tradition generating an illusion generally created by use of the "linear perspective system," based on observations that objects appear to the eye to shrink and parallel lines and planes converge to infinitely distant vanishing points as they recede in space from us the viewer.
Animals in the hall way, or are they?
Inspiration: At the beginning of the 15th century Filippo Brunelleschi worked out the same basic principles of mathematical laws of perspective–including the concept of the vanishing point–known to the Greeks and Romans but later discarded by Byzantine and Gothic artistic expression.
Art of mosaic was the expression used by Byzantine craftspeople.
From the apse of the Cathedral in Ravenna is this 6th century A.C.E. mosaic, depicting Christ as a good shepard; shown here is the focus of artistic expression, the savior, with background objects, not in perspective to one another. Instead they are arrayed in relation to the object of adoration Jesus as the pastoral keeper of domesticated flocks. Each stone piece in the composition is made of different colors of fired glazed ceramic, the disparate parts forming an instructive whole depicting divine saving grace.
These principles of linear perspective based on the use of converging parallel lines were applied to painting by Masaccio in 1427, especially in his "Trinity" fresco in Florence's Santa Maria Novella. The focus on the trinity is accentuated by the depiction of the barrel vault accentuated by the use of perspective.
The meaning of this artwork is disturbing, if you think about it.
Who was Alberti? .
Source: By 1435, in his book "Treatise on Painting," Leon Battista Alberti codified the rules of perspective for painters.
Based on plane geometry, Alberti explained that "vision makes a triangle, and from this it is clear that a very distant quantity seems no larger than a point."
In the drawings below f on the left and C on the right is that point. The imaginary vertex of the visual triangle is called the distance point or vanishing point in linear perspective.
|Look at true perspective and the illusion of three dimensions on a flat (two-dimensional surface) plane.|
|perspectives compared||static three dimensions equal volume||dynamic change in perspectives|
The illusion of the viewer as an important ingredient in the depiction of what is viewed, marks a shift from the object portrayed in the painting as central to an axis of importance. The use of perspective is what makes this shift from central depiction to object tied into subject possible.
That axis of significance ties the object to the precise place where the viewer is observing the scene. This shift to a dual foci from a single focus means that not just the artistic object we are intended to see is of significance. The importance of perspective is that it gives us the illusion of "being there"–right in the artist's vision– before us.
|Michelangelo's Sistine ceiling of God and Adam||Raphael's dome in St. Peters.|
The illusion that this drawing technique of perspective affords an artist using linear perspective also enables the viewer to engage in the deception the artists are perpetrating.
"Linear perspective," Martin Kemp suggests "is about the portrayal of the position and relative scales of objects in Euclidean space. Yet in its pictorial mode, it creates and illusion which can only be used to provide measured definition of the dimensions of forms. . . .
"To overcome this shortcoming, a special mode of perspectival depiction was developed for technical drawing, above all for fortifications, that both presented spatial effects and retained dimensional accuracy. It became the specialty of military draftsmen, engineers, and stonecutters in the eighteenth century."
Visualizations, p. 60
More on linear perspective | Claude Lorraine | Thomas Cole | American Landscape Artists
Terms | words | words used
*A technique in drawing that creates the illusion of depth in a three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional plane–flat surface.