Perspective (from Latin perspicere, "to see through"): the two dimensional representation of spatial objects by means of a vanishing point at an infinite distance.

Construction of vanishing points*

The Romans were already using methods of perspective to represent spaces realistically. Frescos discovered on the walls of ruins in Pompeii create the appearance of a room seemingly opening into a painted garden. This knowledge, however, disappeared in subsequent centuries. Early Christian and medieval painting typically uses a method that has become known internationally by its German name Bedeutungsperspektive ("status perspective"): The size of represented characters is not determined by their actual distance from the observer but rather by their status within the church hierarchy or by the degree of their sanctity.

Only in the Renaissance, from the 15th century onward, did the classic approach to art as a representation of physical reality slowly reemerge and gain new significance. Artists began to study the laws of optics. The Italian painter and architect Filippo Brunelleschi rediscovered the central perspective, which was then developed to perfection by his successor Leonardo Da Vinci. The German painter Albrecht Dürer traveled to Italy specifically to study the art of perspective. He later published a textbook on the subject.

To construct the central perspective we draw each group of parallels to a single vanishing point at the horizon. Thus, we move the infinitely distant points of intersection of the parallels into a finite area of the picture. The vanishing points of those groups of parallels that are also parallel to the bottom of the picture are all located on the horizontal line. In the central perspective parallels that are vertical to the bottom do not intersect in the vanishing points but remain parallel to one another in the representation.

* Daniel Barbaro, Practice of Perspective

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