Perspective, the visual system that attempts to represent 3 dimensional space on a flat surface, has been challenging artists for thousands of years. Perspective works because it is a visual “illusion”. The way our eyes see something and the way our brains organize that space make perspective work. In very early times, most art was depicted with a flat picture plane. While this art was meaningful and symbolic, it was not very visually accurate.

During the Renaissance, the period of “scientific and cultural re-birth”, scientists and scholars began engaging in different kinds of experiments. Some artists conducted careful observations of nature and even anatomical dissections to try to better understand the world around them. But it wasn’t until the early 15th Century that a Florentine architect and engineer named Filippo Brunelleschi developed a mathematical theory of perspective through a series of optical experiments. By analyzing and experimenting with visual lines and points of perception, Brunelleschi was able to understand the science behind perspective. Through his work, artists were able to manipulate a flat surface and create the illusion of 3 dimensions.

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