Arch In Perspective

estimate the place of l, for example, in its square with quite sufficient accuracy by noting that on the plan (Fig. 31) l is half, or a third, or a quarter of the way across its square, and by placing it similarly in the corresponding perspective square in Fig. 30. The distance of l into the picture, and into its square, is estimated in the same way (though this time the chance of error will be theoretically a little greater, it still may be neglected for our purposes). A little reflection will show us that, in Fig. 30, bd is the perspective length of ac at the distance ab or cd (Fig. 3 1) into the picture from the ground line. Consequently, if we wish to erect a perpendicular at that distance into the picture, a perpendicular which shall be equal in height to the length ac, we shall only have to draw an upright equal in length to bd. Or, if we prefer it, we can construct a scale of heights by marking out equal distances up the side of the picture from y (Fig. 30) and joining each division in turn to the point s. The human figures in the diagram explain with sufficient clearness the way to use such a scale.

Perhaps it will be needful to add one or two further hints concerning the use of our perspective squares. We may have, for example, an arch to put into perspective. We draw an elevation of it to scale (Fig. 33). On this elevation we measure the heights of a few points such as h, i, and k ; the more of them we employ, the more accurate will be the resulting perspective curve. Then by the method just indicated we transfer all these points to their right places in our perspective view after having, of course, drawn the ground-plan of the arch on the squares of Fig. 3 i.1

1 A useful thing to have by one is R.'s Method of Perspective, published by Batsford, High Holborn. It consists of a collection of loose plates of squares in perspective, which may be used as a guide under semi-transparent paper.


Leonardo da Vinci tells us that painting is founded on perspective,1 which is nothing else than the art of properly figuring the office of the eye, that is to say, the semblance of objects as they reach the eye. Elsewhere he calls perspective the bridle and rudder of painting.* To-day we should express ourselves in a plainer way, and should reserve to the term perspective a more precise meaning. In the late fifteenth century both perspective and light and shade were comparative novelties, and without them, according to Leonardo's

Fig. 32. Diagram showing too rapid perspective.

Fig. 33. Diagram of arch for perspective.

Fig. 32. Diagram showing too rapid perspective.

Fig. 33. Diagram of arch for perspective.

gospel, there could be no health in art. We cast aside less hastily than he the arts which employed neither. Whatever may be the value of Leonardo's voluminous notes on art, the fact remains that he was a great genius as an executant. We can seldom do better than turn to him for examples of execution, even though his reasoning concerning his own work was confused and, more often than not, incomprehensible. That it was so was the fault of the age not then ripe for precise scientific examination and analysis.

1 La prima parte della pittura h che li corpi co quella figurati si dimostrino rilevati, e che li capi d'esse circudatori, colle lor distantie, si dimostrino etrare dentro alia pariete, dove tal pittura & gienerata mediante le 3 prospective, cioe dimiiraition delle figure de' corpi diminuitio delle magnitudini loro e diminuitio de' loro colori ...

2 LsL prospettiva e di tale natura ch'ella fa parere il piano rilievo e il rilievo piano.

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