Linear Perspective

Chilvers (CHILVERS 2012) describes perspective as “Method of giving a sense of depth on a flat or shallow surface, utilising such optical phenomena as the apparent convergence of parallel lines and diminution in size of objects as they recede from the spectator.”

Lucie-Smith (LUCIE-SMITH 2012) defines perspective as “The method of representing a three dimensional object, or a particular volume of space, on a flat or nearly flat surface.”    “Linear perspective uses real or suggested lines converging on a vanishing point or points on the horizon or at eye level, and linking receding planes as they do so.”    “Centralised perspective, linear perspective in which the eye is drawn towards a single vanishing point in the centre of the composition, usually on the horizon line.”

Honour and Fleming (HONOUR AND FLEMING 2009) Referring to Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) “Brunelleschi’s contemporaries credited him with another achievement of equally great and far-reaching effect: the invention of linear perspective. Various devices had previously been used to suggest distance in pictures and drawings, but Brunelleschi worked out a system by which it could be rendered in a scientifically measurable way. Assuming that visual rays are straight lines subject to the laws of geometry, he seems to have been the first to realise that if a picture is regarded as a window between the viewer and what he sees, the objects on it can be made to obey the same laws. The key to his system lay in the observation that all parallel lines running into space at right angles to the ‘window’ will seem to converge on a central vanishing-point at the viewers eye-level.”

Chilvers, I. (2009), Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (4th edition), Oxford: Oxford University Press


Lucie-Smith, E. (2003), Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art Terms (2nd edition), London: Thames and Hudson

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