Research Point: Linear Persepective

Do some research into the theory and practice of linear perspective and try it yourself by making some perspective drawings in your sketchbook.

The discovery of perspective is attributed to the architect Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), who suggested a system that explained how objects shrink in size according to their position and distance from the eye. However, the nature of Brunelleschi’s system and date of its discovery remain unclear.

In 1435, Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), provided the first theory of what we now call linear perspective in his book, On Painting. The impact of this new system of measurement in paintings was enormous and most artists painting in Europe after 1435 were aware of the principles Alberti outlined in his book. First, an artist created a “floor” (a ground or stage on which figures and objects would be placed) in a painting and drew a receding grid to act as a guide to the relative scale of all other elements within the picture. Alberti suggests relating the size of the floor squares to a viewer’s height. This suggestion is important because it reveals an underlying principal of the Renaissance. The act of painting would no longer be to glorify God, as it had been in Medieval Europe. Painting in the Renaissance related instead, to those people looking at the painting.


You can read lots of books on this subject but sometimes you need to see it in practice.


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