Points of View
Introduction & Index
This is to be an assortment of odd and opinionated pieces about perspective, optics, and picture-making. It will include sequels to my book Vermeer’s Camera of 2001 and spin-offs from my current project on Canaletto’s Camera - both described elsewhere on this site. The plan is to take on topics from Roman frescoes to computer graphics, and to discuss pictures made for many purposes, not just products of the fine and applied arts. I will feature geometrical analysis of the perspective structure of pictures; reconstruction of the 3D spaces represented in 2D images; and practical experiments with optical aids to drawing and painting. I am hoping that guests may make contributions. There will be an occasional series on ‘Follies of the Perspective Theorists’. I may also make amateur excursions into the philosophy of perception and the psychology of vision.
Anamorphosis in a painting by Vermeer
This piece was written for a volume celebrating the life and work of John Sharp, mathematician, educator, and inventor of mathematical recreations: Sharp Forms: Life at the Edge of Art and Mathematics (Tarquin: https://www.tarquingroup.com/sharp-forms-life-at-the-edge-of-art-and-mathematics.html). John was particularly fascinated by anamorphic images.
A response to an essay by Gregor Weber on 'Vermeer's pictorial world'
In the catalogue of the 2023 exhibition of the paintings of Johannes Vermeer in Amsterdam, Gregor Weber writes about ‘Vermeer’s pictorial world’ and the question of what tools the artist might have used to obtain his miraculous perspectives. However, there are some basic misconceptions about perspective and optics in Weber’s article that should not go uncorrected, lest they pass into the accepted Vermeer wisdom.
Foreshortening in the forest
It is possible to create a picture in perspective which gives a powerful sense of space and depth without any straight lines that recede to vanishing points - indeed without any straight lines at all.