• Natoya

Renaissance Perspective

Updated: Oct 26

In 2003, while taking a 100 level drawing class. The instructor explained that to hone our skills as a new artist correctly, we must first learn the fundamentals. We then went on to be introduced to linear perspective. While we effectively went over the aspects of perspective, It was not until this module that I truly gained an in-depth and much-appreciated understanding of perspective.

Linear perspective is the art of creating a three-dimensional space unto a two dimensional or flat surface. The art of linear perspective was rediscovered in the 1420s by Brunelleschi. Alberti later systemized linear perspective in his book La Pittura (On Painting). in this book he explains one point perspective using a few fundamental but very integral principles. They are;

- The Horizon Line

- Vanishing Point

- Orthogonal lines

Alberti's perspective lines diagram from the book Pittura

The vanishing point is at the level of the viewer's eye line, while the horizon line passes directly through the middle of the composition and the vanishing point. The orthogonal lines are the diagonal lines drawn at a parallel which progressively get smaller as they continue to the work's centre. Therefore effectively creating the illusion of three-dimension on a flat surface. Creating "a window," as Alberti explained to another dimension of reality on the flat surface. In this post, I will compare Rapheal's - Marriage of The Virgin and my own work created specifically for this project Woodlands.

In the foreground of Raphael's Marriage Of The Virgin, we see thirteen figures. The foreground figures are divided equally by a priest performing the marriage of Mary and Joseph. The figures are divided by sex, males to the right and females on the left. Each male in the foreground is holding a rod, but Joseph has a flowering rod. It was said that Mary had many suitors and she would be married to the suitor whose rod flowered miraculously, that suitor in this depiction is Joseph. As our eyes look past the marriage, our eyes are drawn to the composition central building. The rounded dome building has a doorway in the center of the work, which leads us through the building and to the back where the land meets the sky. The placement of the door directly in work serves as the vanishing point. In comparison, the tiles leading up to the building serves as the orthogonal lines. This is a classic example of renaissance perspective.

In Woodland, We see a figure wearing a red parka coat walking on a path through the forest between two trees rows. The forest is snowy and appears to be foggy in the distance. As you look ahead, the trees become smaller and less detailed, emphasizing this may be an endless forest. The snowflakes in the foreground are larger and more detailed, whereas the snowflakes in the background are much smaller. 

In both works the figure or figures in the foreground are heavily emphasized and detailed. As the viewer's eyes go past the action in the foreground of both these works and begin to examine the backgrounds, the details become muted. In Raphael's work, the background figures represent human forms with very little facial details. In my work the trees have become less detailed as the viewer look past the figure in the foreground.

The viewer for each of these works are directly in front of the compositions. The branches are less noticeable and everything seems to blend into a vanishing snowscape. In both works there is an undeniable central vanishing point. Raphael's vanishing point is the dome structure opening, which leads the eye through the building and out the other side. Raphael's orthogonal lines are the stairs leading to the dome structure. Whereas the vanishing point in my work is the hat worn by the figure. The pom-pom on the hat is the central vanishing point and is directly in the centre of the work, with the orthogonal lines being the tree line on the path leading through the woods.

The two works differ in craftsmanship, I believe Raphael's work is well thought out and executed in a way that forces the viewer to examine the overall picture each time, finding a detailed they may have missed before for example, there are two castle-like buildings far into the background to the right. In my work, the forest continues into the fog, with not many more details added. The viewer may be interested mainly in the contrasting of both bright and muted colours in a rather cold feeling work. Both works, however, are an accurate depiction of the use of perspective.

Process video of creating the "Woodland" illustration.


Painting of Raphael - The Marriage of the Virgin


Perspective Diagram


 © 2020 Natoya  Ellis - Studio  Natoyaista

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