Science and Art
The study of "the nature and properties of light and vision."
[Telescopes and Microscopes]
In the early 1400s, Leon Battista Alberti suggested painting be
considered a Liberal Art with a scientific basis. In De pictura
(1435) he expressed optical perspective as a geometrical technique
which could be applied by artists to their work. He realized the distance
between the artists and the subject determined the rate of recession and
suggested the use of a gridded glass instrument as an aid in drawings.
Both Leonardo da Vinci and
Albrecht Dürer were influenced by Alberti and built modified versions
of the mechanical device.
Telescopes and Microscopes
Telescopes and microscopes were collectibles and amusements
for those who could afford them. Gerrit Dou, a student of Rembrandt's,
founded the Leiden School of Fine Painting (fijnschilderij)
in the early 1640s and was known to use magnifying glasses in his work.
Anthony van Leeuwenhouck, considered the father of microbiology, was
a family friend of Dutch artist Jan Vermeer.
The camera obscura, or dark chamber, was popular with prominent
scientists, artists, and wealthy people during the mid-1600s. It was often highlighted
by traveling natural magic shows which played to public audiences. The camera obscura
worked by allowing light from a small hole to enter a dark room. An image from the
outside was projected onto a wall or surface parallel to the plane of focus.
The artist placed paper on the surface to sketch or trace the image. In more
complex versions, a mirror was used to re-invert the inverted image and lenses
were added to aid in focusing. A prominent Dutch physicist and astronomer, Constantijn
Huygens (1596-1678) introduced and demonstrated the camera obscura to many Dutch
artists. The camera obscura is frequently associated with the works of
Continued on the Illusion Page