Teachers Lesson Plans

An Introduction to Pictorial Space

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Antonio Canal (also known as Canaletto), St. Mark's and the Clock Tower, Venice, 1735-1737and Meindert Hobbema, Two Water-mills, circa 1670

In linear perspective, an artist could create an illusion of depth by using one, two or three vanishing points. In these examples, Canaletto's painting has one vanishing point, while Meindert Hobbema's work has two.

A vanishing point is situated on the horizon and shows the depth of a work. In a perspective with a single vanishing point, all parallel lines, perpendicular to the ground of the representation, converge on this point. That is the case in Canaletto's work; the vanishing point is just to the right of the actual framework of the canvas. The house of Meindert Hobbema's painting allows us to identify a perspective with two vanishing points. To prove this, prolong the horizontal lines in the centre. The lines on the right converge on a single point, while the lines on the left unite in another point. These are the two vanishing points of the painting.