Accessible Art History
Art History Terms: Linear Perspective
Welcome back to the Accessible Art History blog! This week, I’m discussing another art term that is essential to the study of art history! Linear perspective is an innovation that truly changed the trajectory of creation. So, to learn more, keep on reading!
Linear or “one point” perspective is a technique employed by artists to create a sense of three dimensionality on a two dimensional surface.
How it Works
While creating the composition, the artist would pick a point on the canvas. This was called the vanishing point. Then, the artist would create their scene around this point so that all the lines converge at that point. This is what creates the sense of three dimensionality.
One of the best examples of this concept is The Holy Trinity painted by Masaccio. Created in
1427 for the Church of Santa Maria Novella, art historians have long used it as a representation of the shift that the Italian Renaissance brought about. This piece consists of four sections: The Holy Trinity, the Virgin and St. John, the donors, and a tomb. If you look closely, you can see that the vanishing point is on top of the tomb.
This is a deliberate choice on Masaccio’s part. He did this to ensure that the viewer looks up at Christ. Jesus is literally above the viewer. This also helps to create a three dimensional space within the architecture of the painting.
Linear perspective is one of the most developments in artistic techniques. It allows artists to take their pieces into the world of three dimensionality and helps viewers to suspend belief.