In Chapter 1 of Leonardo’s “Treatise on Painting,” he makes this statement.
“The young student should, in the first place, acquire a knowledge of perspective, to enable him to give to every object its proper dimensions…”
In the footnote, the translator states that many readers misunderstood Leonardo’s suggestion. Leonardo did not mean that the student should be a master of perspective. He intended that the student should understand the fundamental problems that beginners make. It would be up to the apprentice’s master to instruct him in the broader laws of perspective.
The translator referenced an engraving made in 1754. It was a satire illustrating common perspective problems. The engraving was for a pamphlet written by Joshua Kirby. Kirby was an English landscape painter, writer, and teacher.
We’ve written before that perspective is one of the two main problems we see in many paintings. It is the reason we make understanding perspective an important part of Master Class.
We use a simple tool to help students understand how to avoid these types of problems. We keep the paintings in the Introductory Course simple, at first. That way the student is not overwhelmed with too many learning objectives.
We thought it would be fun to share the engraving because it is famous by itself in the annals of art history.
The engraving states:
“Whoever makes a Design without the knowledge of Perspective will be liable to such absurdities as are shown in this Frontispiece.”
You can click on the image to see a larger one. There are twenty-two separate perspective errors. Make a note of them before you look at the answer. (We’ve provided a link below.)
How did you do? Would you like to learn the laws of perspective? We’ll teach them to you in Master Class.