Renaissance and Linear Perspective
The Renaissance was a period between the 14th and 19th century, which was characterized by significant and numerous scientific, mathematical, philosophical, and art discoveries. Linear perspective was one of the substantial progresses made in art. The perspective involved the use of mathematical principles in the portrayal of depth and space in art.
Linear perspective was used by Renaissance artists to portray three-dimensional, realistic views of the world on two-dimensional works of art, such as paintings on canvas. The perspective enabled artists to represent different aspects of real life using their paintings and showcase their skills in depth and space. The artists implemented the perspective by first selecting a vanishing point on their canvas horizon line. Here, horizontal intersecting lines are drawn on a receding checkerboard with a fading appearance on the near the vanishing point.
The artistic checkerboard image resembles real life view in that the distant objects appear smaller. For instance, you are standing in the middle of a straight road, as you look further ahead of the road, it seems to be narrower until both sides of the road merge in the distant horizon and disappear at the vanishing point. When a vehicle comes towards you on the same street, it appears small in the distance, but it appears more significant and more prominent as it approaches you. Therefore, through linear perspective, the artists managed to implement these three-dimensional aspects of real life in their two-dimensional paintings.
Various features of art attributed to the linear perspective paradigms. The first feature was that objects appear smaller from far view and more prominent when they are near. The second feature is that the subject in the painting can be foreshortened, which involves the shortening of object across the line of sight and lengthening along the same dimensions. As a result of the foreshortening effect in the paintings, shapes are altered; and circles appear as ovals and rectangles as trapezoids. The third feature is that linear perspective works of art are made under the assumption that light travels from the scene being painted through the two-dimensional canvas to the eyes of the viewer. Besides, the perspective uses mathematical aspects of length, width, and height in painting, thus giving three-dimensional painting in two-dimensional pictures.
Works of Art
“The Dome of Florence Cathedral” is a painting created by Filippo Brunelleschi, which applied the linear perspective approach. In the art, it is evident that three-dimensional aspects of the dome such as space and depth were represented. The top of the dome, which is further from the viewer, appears smaller than the base, which is nearer to the eyes of the onlooker. The foreshortening effect is also attested, where the circle windows of the dome that are not directly facing the eye of the viewer appear oval. The object lines along the horizon line appear shorter than the dome lines that are across the horizon line.
Besides, the painting “St. Francis in Ecstasy” by Giovanni Bellini also used the linear perspective attributes. In the work, the objects which are further from the viewer, such as the castle on top of the hill, appear smaller, while the objects which are nearer to the viewer’s eyes, such as the image of St. Francis, look bigger. The objects, such as the St. Francis’ stand, which had rectangular surfaces, appear trapezoidal. The feature indicates that the foreshortening effect of linear perspective was applied.