Central perspective

The central perspective, also the front perspective, is a way of creating space depth on a two-dimensional surface, which acts as if the space were three-dimensional. The central perspective creates the impression that the represented objects of an image behave as they would in reality under visual conditions. In this case, all the lines which enter the depth of the space run towards a vanishing point, which lies on the horizontal line. In this connection we speak of a shortening, since the lines which go into the depth are shown more briefly. The central perspective was developed in the Renaissance, which made the person depicted more realistic.

The central perspective thus ultimately ensures that the objects that are in the background of an image are getting smaller and smaller, while the things that are in the foreground appear larger. This effect is additionally enhanced when the painter shows the same or similar objects and shortens them in the distance, which is often realized by pillars, streets or rows of houses. In the following picture this effect is generated by a simple geometrical figure.Central perspective in the art

The example above illustrates the principle. There is a horizontal line parallel to all the horizontal lines that lie on the image. All the vertical lines are also parallel to each other. The so-called vanishing point is located on a horizontal horizon line. All lines of the image, which run into the depth, are running towards this vanishing point. This creates the effect of three-dimensionality, which is why the presented object acts as if it were protruding into the space. This effect can be realized most easily with geometrical and simple figures.

It is important that the perspective changes as the position of the horizon line travels. In the above example, the horizon line is set over the object, giving the impression that you are looking at the body from above (bird perspective). If the horizon line is in the center of the object, it appears that the viewer is placed just in front of the object, if it is placed under the object, the perspective moves downwards (frog perspective).

In the example above, the horizon line has moved under the body, which is why the perspective has changed. It now seems as if the observer would see the object from below and no longer – as in the above example – from above. In addition, not only can the position of the horizon line change, but also the position of the vanishing point on the horizon line itself. This creates the effect that the object is no longer centered but slightly displaced. An example: the central perspective in painting

In the example above, the horizon line is centered, and all the lines that go into the depth run toward a vanishing point that is not centered, but right. This creates the impression that the viewer sees the respective object from the front as well as from the side. The special feature of all examples is that the front surface of the respective object is always undisturbed – the horizontal lines of the body are therefore parallel to the horizon – all the lines that go down into the depth run down to a central vanishing point. That there is a central vanishing point is also the reason why this kind of representation is called a central perspective.

Central perspective in painting
The knowledge about the central perspective comes from the Renaissance. Previously, in painting, the artist used mostly two layers: a background and a foreground. Objects, which were in the foreground, concealed all objects that were placed on the background plane. However, this did not give the impression of three-dimensionality. In the Renaissance, for the first time, the central perspective created the impression that the objects of an image behave as they would in reality under visual conditions.

There are often geometrical forms in the paintings of the Renaissance, which are smaller in distance, as well as recurring and similar objects, which intensify the effect of depth perception. Such similar objects were evenly shortened as the distance increased, making the illusion of the depth spotless. An example of Raphael, a Renaissance painter: an example of the central perspective in painting by the example of Raphael

Image: School of Athens of the painter Raffael (1510/1511)

The above example shows a fresco (wall painting) by the Italian painter Raphael. The central perspective can be illustrated by using the picture, as numerous clear lines lead to the centered vanishing point. It is also possible to see how the shortening of similar objects reinforces the effect by connecting the contiguous columns with escape lines.

The discovery and use of the central perspective can be demonstrated for the first time in Italy. However, very similar representations are also found in German painters. For example, in the work of Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), a German painter, graphic artist, mathematician and art theorist, there are many who create depth through the central perspective.

The above example is one of the three Masterstiches of Diirer and bears the title Der St. Hieronymus in the case, which is due to the fact that Dürer nearly perfected the copper engraving with the three masterpieces (see Meisterwerk). Also in this picture, the central perspective can be traced perfectly: the vanishing point is found in the middle of the right half, and lines that enter the room intersect this point, with horizontal lines running parallel to the horizon.

Short overview: The most important overview
As a central perspective, also in the front perspective, in art, the representation of the space is designated on a two-dimensional surface, which, however, appears to the viewer as if it were three-dimensional. This creates the impression that the objects of an image behave as they would in real viewing conditions
In order to implement this effect, a horizontal horizontal line is drawn into the image and a point is placed on it. This point is called a vanishing point. All the lines of the image, which go into the depth, reach this central point and are thus shortened. Vertical and horizontal lines are parallel to each other.
If the horizon line is placed above the object, the impression arises that the observer would look from above at the viewpoint (bird perspective), if it is centered, it acts as if the observer were standing in front of the object, is the so-called frog perspective. If the horizon is even below that shown, this effect is amplified and the object appears to float.
By shifting the alignment point on the horizon line, the viewer’s viewpoint can be varied. If the point is centered, the image shown is shown frontally, if it is in a picture half, the observer can also see the sides of the object.
Note: The central perspective takes its name because all the lines that go into the room go to a central point. In addition, there is the possibility that two vanishing points are used. Then one speaks of a two-point perspective.

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