Atmospheric vs mathematical_perspectives-_schwappach


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Atmospheric vs mathematical_perspectives-_schwappach

  1. 1. Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives 1Running head: Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives of the Italian Renaissance Phase #3, Assignment #6, Individual Project #3 TSgt Loren Karl-Robinson Schwappach Colorado Technical University Prepared for Tammy Starzyk HUM140-0804A-08 Art Appreciation 28 October, 2008
  2. 2. Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives 2 Abstract The Italian Renaissance or “rebirth” in French was one of the most influential and fruitfulperiods in art history, especially in the creation of techniques used to create illusions of depthand realism in art. This essay will discuss the origins and differences between two techniquesthat were born in this era of rebirth and their ability to morph a two dimensional surface into athree dimensional dreamscape. The two techniques you will read about are the atmospheric andmathematical perspectives. This paper will also explain how the later forever changed theapproach to creating realistic art through science.
  3. 3. Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives 3 Until the early fourteenth century the use of perspective, or point of view in painting wasrepresented in an intuitive or instinctive manner. Three intuitive techniques were used to imply asense of depth and reality in artwork. These three techniques were overlapping (things in frontappeared closer), vertical (things in the distance appeared closer), and diminution (smallerelements are assumed to be farther away). Atmospheric perspective was popularized in the early fourteenth century and is alsoknown commonly as aerial perspective. The birth of atmospheric perspective is credited toFilippo Brunelleschi, although elements of the style have been observed by scholars prior to theItalian Renaissance, even as far back as Roman times. It is said that atmospheric perspective wasmade famous by Leonardo da Vinci through paintings such as Mona Lisa, which has broughtconfusion on who really deserves credit for the style. (ArtLex on Aerial Perspective) Atmospheric perspective accomplishes the illusion of dimension though imitating theatmosphere and building upon a law of natural observation. When you naturally observe objectsin nature the dust in the atmosphere causes a scattering of light, which increases the further anobject, is from the observer. In other words, as the distance between an object and the viewerincreases, the contrast between the object and its background decreases. This decrease incontrast makes the object appear blurred and hazy. The object not only looses clarity to theviewer but takes on the color and luminosity of the background. The aerial perspective createsthis illusion of depth for the audience by making distant objects appear lighter, less detailed andnormally much cooler in hue than any nearby objects. (ArtLex on Aerial Perspective)
  4. 4. Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives 4 As mentioned earlier the creation of atmospheric perspective in art is recognized byFilippo Brunelleschi, yet most say it was Leonardo da Vinci that made the style famous. Thus,in homage to Leonardo, the famous Mona Lisa (see image 1, below) is a grand example of theatmospheric perspective technique in painting.Image 1: Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci: Image obtained on 28 Oct 2008 from at Leonardo was a master at creating illusions of reality and perception of depth in hisartwork. The Mona Lisa while not only one of the most famous paintings in history is also aperfect example of the atmospheric perspective in artwork. For example, first take a look at thesize of Mona Lisa compared to the background scenery behind her. In the scene Mona Lisaappears much larger than the background. This is an example of diminution described above.Second, notice how the image of Mona Lisa is much sharper than the corresponding background.Although the painting is essentially a flat object, the curving mountains, oceans, and scenery in
  5. 5. Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives 5the exemplified in the background seem miles upon miles away. In actuality as your eyes fallfarther and farther into the background, the background slowly blurs together, becoming lighter,and becomes significantly cooler in hue. This blurring of detail and cooling of color is theatmospheric perspective in action, and allows Leonardo to create a sweet three definitional senseof depth through a purely intuitive means. (Stokstad, 2007) As mentioned in the abstract, the Italian Renaissance was one of the most influential andfruitful periods in art history. One of the greatest fruits born during this period was theconvergence between art and science, specifically mathematics. The convergence between artand mathematics lead to several of man kinds great and more rewarding discoveries. One ofthese amazing discoveries was a method that could use the growing knowledge obtained frommathematics to grant the illusion of dimension in a much more realistic way. This method isknown as the mathematical perspective also known as linear perspective, and its creation is alsocredited to Filippo Brunelleschi. (ArtLex on Li) Filippo Brunelleschi was a renowned architect, painter, sculptor, engineer, andmathematician. Brunelleschi was one of the first persons to experiment on mathematical theoriesof perspective in painting. Though these experiments and the foundations on rays laid out byEuclid, new rules of proportions and symmetry were developed and eventually lead to thecreation of mathematical perspective in art.
  6. 6. Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives 6 Mathematical or linear perspective is a rough depiction of an image as it is perceived bythe eye on a flat surface. Mathematical perspective works by representing the lines of light thatpass from an object in a scene through an imaginary rectangle or in the case of a painting thepainting itself. It is a lot like looking through glass and painting the scene your eyes create ontothe glass plane. This essential mimics the eyes ability of depth perception an tricks the observerinto thinking the object is three dimensional. Mathematical perspective uses foreshortening (adistortion effect where objects seem shorter because they are angled towards the observer), ahorizon line (the line opposite of an observers eye represents objects infinitely far away), andvanishing points (the point or points where parallel lines converge). (ArtLex on Li) The painting by Pietro Perugino of Jesus Handing the Keys to St. Peter (see image 2,below) is a great example of mathematical perspective. Notice how the buildings on the left andright of the cathedral are slightly distorted, this is foreshortening. Light brownish grey, lines ofperspective are drawn from the vanishing point in the middle of the center buildings door andstretch out perpendicular to each other. Using mathematical perspective the image creates agreat sense of depth and distance to the observer. Notice also the size of the backgroundaudience is much smaller than the audience in the front, using the lines of perspective as guidesthe artist is able to ensure incredibly realist ratios of size in order to simulate their respectivedistances, this is the use of diminution once again. This painting also illustrates an aspect of theatmospheric perspective. Notice how the background landscape becomes hazy and blurred.
  7. 7. Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives 7Image 2: Jesus Handing the Keys to St. Peter, by Pietro Perugino: Image obtained on 28 Oct 2008 from at Leonardo da Vinci believed there was more to perspective than Brunelleschis works onlinear perspective could offer. He felt that linear perspective failed to take into account theappearance of objects held close to the eyes. Thus, Leonardos use of perspective utilized notonly beams of light but his direct observations. (Stokstad, 2007) The painting of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (see image 3, below) is anothergreat example of linear perspective in art. This wall painting again uses the tools offoreshortening, notice the strange distortions of the wall rugs on the left and right. You shouldalso notice there is a vanishing point this time vanishing within the head of Christ. Again the useof mathematical perspective in the perpendicular lines on the ceiling tricks the observer intorealizing an accurate three dimensional space. Leonardo also utilizes the atmosphericperspective in this painting. Notice how the background landscape is cooler than the foreground.
  8. 8. Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives 8Image 3: The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci: Image obtained on 28 Oct 2008 from at In summary the Italian Renaissance birthed new methods for enhancing the illusions ofdimension in art. The atmospheric or aerial method used the ideas found in nature where objectsin the distance appear cooler and less sharp than objects in the foreground. The mathematical orlinear perspective used concrete laws of science and mathematics, such as the angles created byrays of light, to create a near perfect dimensional space. These two techniques forever changedthe role of science, and mathematics in art and gave the artist an amazing tool to create dreamylandscapes of depth.
  9. 9. Atmospheric and Mathematical Perspectives 9 ReferencesStokstad, M. (2007). Art: a brief history (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.ArtLex on Aerial Perspective from retrieved on 28 October 2008 from on Aerial Perspective from retrieved on 28 October 2008 from on Li from retrieved on 28 October 2008 from