THATKid Tuesday: Perspective (Part 2!)

THATKid Tuesday is a dose of Art History terms for kids, simplified and illustrated. These terms are culled from the glossary found in our Kid Packs, booklets you receive on Luxe Hunts that offer travelling families exercises. I made one for families visiting London and Paris, b/c as a mother, I’ve really just wanted to have a glass of wine at the end of a lovely day touristing and have found it useful to give Storsh and Balthazar these exercises at restaurants when travelling. The Kid Packs have art fun such as a Botticelli spot-the-difference, Michelangelo connect-the-dots, some da Vinci Decoding (do you know he kept his journal in a secret language?!!) or even some color-in exercises for smaller siblings.

This is the 2nd of 2 posts on perspective, our previous post on single-point perspective here.

Today’s topic is another type of perspective, multi-point perspective. This is similar to one-point perspective, in that it has a horizon line, but different in that it has not just one vanishing point, but two or more.

Villa of Publius Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, near Pompeii, 1st C BC

Two-point perspective is used particularly when the subject is a building, or when the viewer is facing the corner or angle of the building.  For example, take a look at this photo (above). Unlike the example of the train tracks in our last blog post, we’re not dealing with parallel lines disappearing into the distance. Instead, we’re facing the corner of the building, and the bottom edges of the building seem to be going upwards the further away from us they get, while the top edges seem to come downwards. If we continued these lines outside of the edges of the photo, they would meet at each side, at the vanishing points. The horizontal line which connects the two vanishing points is the horizon (as seen in our previous post on one-point perspective, sometimes the two vanishing points are not visible within the plane of the painting). 

Two-point perspective can also be used to show interiors, as in this painting by William Hogarth, The Marriage Contract, (below) which is on display in the National Gallery in London.

William Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode (1743-1745), National Gallery, London

For example, in this painting, The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (below) by Mantegna, the distance from his feet to his head is physically not much more than the width of his shoulders, creating the illusion of depth (it looks like his head is farther away from us, than his feet, no?).

Mantegna’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ, 1480, Pinacoteca di Brera (Milano)

A note on perspective for this particular painting, considering that Mantegna was a master of perspective, note that his feet are smaller than they would be in reality. If those feet were in our face they’d be much larger, but then this would cover Christ’s face, so he made them smaller.

Any questions about perspective in art? Leave us a comment with any questions.

Perspective is a word for various techniques that artists use to show a 3D world on a 2D surface (like a canvas or piece of paper). In Renaissance Italy, artists were rediscovering the rules of perspective and paying special attention to how they were depicting volumes and spatial relationships on flat surfaces. The word “perspective” comes from the Latin perspicere, meaning to see through. When perspective is used, it’s as if we’re looking through a window (2D) into the world of the painting (3D).

Tune in the first Tuesday of the month if you’d like another art history dose of THATKid.

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