Intuitive Perspective

The accompanying reproduction is one of a well-known pen-drawing by Leonardo. In it the point of sight is at the head of the central rearing horse ; to this point converge all the lines which in reality are perpendicular to the picture plane. Lay a ruler over the principal lines and verify this fact. All the rest of the drawing seems, however, to have been drawn in freely. Some of the edges of the steps vanish to the point of sight, others do not. This is of course a derogation from the laws of perspective, but I very much doubt whether the drawing loses in quality on account of it. On the contrary, I am inclined to think that a certain agreeable flexibility, which would otherwise be missing, results in the general effect. The various arches would also seem to be intuitively drawn ; and indeed here is my chief reason for reproducing the study. In text-books which treat of perspective we are told to enclose a circular or other curved form within a suitable rectangular or polygonal figure, and to put that figure into perspective where it will become a quadrilateral, or a polygon, of more or less irregular shape. We are then told either to trace directly a freehand curve within this new figure, or, if considered needful, to establish other perspective points on the curve by means of renewed constructions. Now all this is very tedious, and, I am inclined to think, as a rule quite superfluous for an artist. That the main lines of fair-sized work should be laid down in perspective, as Leonardo has done, I quite admit, but if a draughtsman, when once he has his main perspective scheme fixed before him, cannot draw into that already existing illusion of solidity the appearance that any given curved form should take up in it, he had better leave off trying to draw. No amount of perspective geometrical construction will ever enable him to plot into perspective the various and subtle curves of the human body ; yet he must be able to put them as unerringly into foreshortening as he would the arches of a bridge. I am quite

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