The early development of perspective Prior to the Renaissance artists were less concerned with the illusion of reality and more concerned with the content and symbolism of their work. The size of each element in the image related much more to its importance, rather than it's placement in a space. Artist unknown. Madonna and child. Notice how large the Madonna and child are compared to the rest of the image. Artist unknown.
Garden Scene. Look at this image, examine its composition, how is perspective used in this picture? What is the most important element? how can you tell? By the height of the Renaissance, artists had mastered the mathematics and visual techniques of perspective. Artists such as Brunelleschi, Leonardo DaVinci and Piero della Francesca were using it to great effect, giving their work a stronger illusion depth. Piero della Francesca. St. Anthony's Polyptych (detail) Brunelleschi devised the method of perspective for architectural purposes -- he is said by Manet ti to have made a ground plan for the Church of Santo Spirito on the basis of which he produced a perspective drawing to show his clients how it would look after it was built.
We can compare this drawing with a modern photo of the actual church. Brunelleschi, Drawing for Church of Santo Spirito. Ten years later, Masaccio applied the new method of mathematical perspective even more spectacularly: 1. In this fresco of the "Holy Trinity", where the barrel vaulted ceiling is incredible in its complex, mathematical use of perspective. 2. Lines following Masaccio's actual geometric framework are overlaid to make clear the structure of the perspective itself.
3. From the geometry it is actually possible to work backwards to reconstruct the full volume in measured accuracy of the 3-dimensional space Masaccio depicts 1. 2. 3. Masaccio. Holy Trinity.
The rules of perspective One point perspective The simplest form of perspective is one point perspective. It presumes a single Point, which all others move towards. It Is like looking down a straight road as far as you can see, lines which we know are parallel seem to converge on a single point known as the Vanishing Point. We can see this in the picture of the Agora in Athens. (Below) View of the Agora To draw in one point perspective, draw a horizon line and draw a vanishing point anywhere on the horizon. Lines which are parallel in real life are drawn to intersect at the vanishing point.
All lines travel to the vanishing point in both these drawings. Distant figures appear smaller but have the same shape and proportions as they would close up. Two point perspective This is all very fine if you are looking at a thing face on down a corridor, but what if you are facing the edge of something? This is where 2 point perspective comes in. We are now looking at an object from slightly above and we can see more of the object in question, giving an even stronger sense of its 3-dimensional form.
By lowering or Horizon Line, we can alter our view of the object to make it seem to loom over our viewers. It is important to remember that the horizon line is always at the level of your eyes, regardless of whether yo are looking from above or below an object. Piranesi used this technique to great effect in his drawing "Fantasy on a Magnificent Triumphal Arch"-1765. Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Fantasy on a Magnificent Triumphal Arch, 1765 Can you find where the horizon and vanishing points are?.