a brief History of PERSPECTIVE                           - Robert Griffith

This gallery is a historical tour of art based on perspective.  The techniques required to draw and paint realistic 3D images based on perspective dates back to Brunelleschi in the 1400's and has steadily advanced along with the understanding of mathematics and the principles of light until the advent of the camera.  In the late 1800's as cameras became common place, art based on perspective tapered off and was replaced by photography. However in the 1970's, street paintings based on perspective began to emerge.  With the advent of computer calculations, the art form has gained world wide recognition.      

The Dream of Pope Sergius, Rogier van der Weyden, late 1430s, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
This image depicts a dream in which Pope Sergius was approached by an angel and told that the bishop Saint Lambert had been assassinated and he was to appoint Saint Hubert as the replacement bishop. The artist used size as a design element to focus the viewers attention on the image of the dream. This portion of the work dominates the image. The artist then uses perspective to create a dimensional aspect for the bedroom and the city behind flowing off to the vanishing point. Despite the the angles of the perspective not being consistent, it is a good example of the early attempts to master this technique. The artist hides inconsistencies in perspective by effectively using an analogous color scheme.
Lovers Surprised by Death, Hans Burgkmair the Elder (German, 1473–1531), 1510, From the collection of: The Art Institute of Chicago
Lovers Surprised by Death, 1510 is a Chiaroscuro woodcut in shades of brown on ivory. To create this art work, Hans Burgkmair had to go through a lot of steps including drawing the images, carving the wood and working the paint and paper. Despite all of the challenges, this work seems to create an almost realistic image. This is in part due to the excellent details and straightness of the lines of the buildings. From the standpoint of perspective, the optical lines take advantage of a hundred years of refinement but are still not perfect. The layout of the buildings and landscape are formed with very sharp lines and angles creating an anxiety in the piece which supports the theme that death comes for everyone. The work also exhibits symmetrically balanced images of the lovers and death in reflection and rotation. The rolling patterns of the the three contrast with the strong edges and angles of the background. The final contrast is the lack of depth in perspective of the lovers and death when compared to the background, almost leading one to believe they may have already been transformed into a ghost form.
Hans Bol - De Grote Markt, Hans Bol, 1583/1583, From the collection of: Het Markiezenhof Historisch Centrum
De Grote Markt, 1583 is a painting of of the Grote Markt. The perspective is evident in Hans Bol’s work. The work is very refined and the vanishing point is well established. Hans Bol uses color harmonies throughout the painting relying on both complementary colors to contrast the roof lines with the sky and analogous colors throughout the city buildings to establish a pleasing feeling.
View of the palace and gardens of Versailles, seen from the avenue de Paris, Pierre Patel, 1668, From the collection of: Palace of Versailles
View of the palace and gardens of Versailles, 1668 is one of the most accurate of the numerous paintings of the palace and gardens of Versailles. The perspective and vanishing points are very accurate representing several hundred years of refinement. The painting is well balanced with half of the painting devoted to the palace and half of the painting devoted to the garden's mountainous backdrop and sky. By the mid 1600's, the art and science of drawing visual lines to properly scale two dimensional art to appear three dimensional was reaching perfection.
The Arno in Florence, Bernardo Bellotto, 1740, From the collection of: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
The Arno in Florence, 1740 is a work of near perfection with respect to spacial perspective. In addition to a near perfect vanishing point, the painting also provides near photo realistic reflections in the water in the Arno. A good deal of art work space is dedicated to water flowing seamlessly into the mountains then transitioning into the sky. Bernardo Bellotto’s proper use of proportion creates realism in its accuracy and depth.
View of Warsaw from the Terrace of the Royal Castle, Bernardo Bellotto called Canaletto, 1773, From the collection of: The National Museum in Warsaw
View of Warsaw from the Terrace of the Royal Castle, 1773 achieves perfection in spacial perspective. In addition, Vernardo Bellotto masters a near photo realistic perspective with clouds and shadows in this painting. The Arno in Florence, 1740 Bellotto demonstrated mastery of perspective with building and the vanishing point, but his image lacked realistic clouds and shadowing. With this print almost 33 years later he reached perfection. Images of the Terrace taken by photo are almost indistinguishable from the painting.
Morning Sunlight Effect, Eragny, Camille Pissarro, 1899, From the collection of: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Morning Sunlight Effect, Eragny, 1899 is accurate from the perspective standpoint but lacks the definition and photo realism found in the work of Bernardo Bellotto. Impressionism was beginning to take over as the prevailing style of art. Camille Pissarro seems torn between making the image photo realistic using the highly refined art and science of spacial perspective and adopting the new style of impressionism. Pissarro strikes a balance between the two art forms in this work keeping it both spatially correct with balanced color and yet used impressionistic texture.
Road to Puteaux, Maurice Utrillo, 1913 - 1914, From the collection of: Dixon Gallery and Gardens
Road to Puteaux, 1914 shows the shift back away from making images spatially correct to focusing instead on making them abstract and impressionist. Maurice Utrillo’s work illustrates the move to this abstract art form. The buildings are drawn with perspective but then lines that should be straight are deliberately made imperfect and wavy. The tree canopy has even greater lack of definition. The introduction of the camera in the late 1800's seemed to signal the end for artists to attempt to make realistic art work. The feeling was that why try and paint what a camera could take a perfect picture of. This trend continued from the early 1900’s until the 1970's.
"No one", Shamsia Hassani, 2014, From the collection of: Women's Forum Street Art Project
No one, 2014 shows one of two photos in this gallery that illustrate the dramatic shift in the art form know as street art back to spatially correct images. The art form started with a street artist that had been around in Italy since the 1600’s. In the 1970’s there was a revival of this art form in Italy. What has made this art unique is that it is designed around standing in a single spot and, in most cases, using the optics of camera lenses to create an image that is completely accurate from the spacial perspective but portrays images that are fantasy. Notice in this image how the color and perspective combine to make a completely realistic three dimensional image of the canyon bridge.
Christina Angelina, EaseOne, Stephen Williams_Mural_South Park, Do Art Foundation, EaseOne, Stephen V Williams, Christina Angelina, 2015-02-24, From the collection of: Do Art Foundation
Christina Angelina, EaseOne, Stephen Williams Mural_South_Park, 2015 is the second work in this gallery illustrating the amazing spatially correct images of street art. The work was created by three artists and includes use of the existing wall as a back drop, perfect color balance and perfect perspective. All of these aspects combine into an image that seems real but cannot actually exist in nature. From its' roots in the early 1400’s to its' peak in the 1600s and to its' seeming demise due to the camera, the fantastically realistic street art shows the art and science of spacial perspective has eclipsed time. Styles and periods of art are constantly changing; some for the better and some for the worse. However, in the case of spacial perspective, it has only gotten better over time.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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