• Perspective



Kim H. Veltman

Review: Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., Perspective, Optics and Delft Artists Around 1650, (New York, 1977), Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, Münster, Bd. 42, (1979), pp. 81- 82.

Art h u r K. W heelock Jr.: Perspective, Optics, and Delft Artists Around 1650. Garland Publishing Company; New York and London, 1977.

Why did Delft artists around 1650 develop perspectival techniques different from those of traditional treatises on the subject? Dr. Wheelock turns to three standard works Vries, Marolois and Hondius and finds they derive from Alberti and Euclidean optics opposed, he claims, to Alhazen's optics, which continued via Witelo, Pecham, Bacon and served as the basis of Kepler's optical breakthroughs.

This introduces his second question: why did Dutch perspective writers, Marolois in particular, ignore advances in optics? They were, he claims, under the influence of neo- Platonism which made them suspicious of firstly, non-Euclidean optics and secondly, of Vitruvius, who emphasized geometry and architectural designs. Whence they sought to produce a "replica of nature itself" and were reacting against an Aristotelian tradition, championed by Leonardo, devoted to the perceived image of reality.

Daniel Barbaro and Egnatio Danti's perspective treatises are studied to show failed 16th century attemps to reconcile optics and perspective, which serves in turn to explain why Dutch writers, lacking Danti's "philosophical awareness" (p. 152) wrote theoretical treatises steeped in architecturel phantasy and abstract geometry.

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