Who is the real father of linear perspective?


Is there any consensus now on whether Brunelleschi invented or rediscovered linear perspective. Most popular history books state that Brunelleschi invented it. But I am finding more online articles stating that he rediscovered. What is the consensus?
I look forward to your feedback

Using a novel technique, involving reflective material and pinholes, Brunelleschi produced an exact isometric simulation of the octagonal building. Brunelleschi had reproduced a three-dimensional object in two dimensions. He had invented perspective.


Early in his architectural career (c. 1410-1415), Brunelleschi rediscovered the principles of linear perspective, known to ancient Greeks and Romans, but lost during the Middle Ages. With these principles, one can paint or draw using a single vanishing point, toward which all lines on the same plane appear to converge, and objects appear smaller as they recede into the distance.



Brunelleschi is famous for two panel paintings illustrating geometric optical linear perspective made in the early 1400s. His biographer, Antonio Manetti, described this famous experiment in which Brunelleschi painted two panels: the first of the Florentine Baptistery as viewed frontally from the western portal of the unfinished cathedral, and second the Palazzo Vecchio as seen obliquely from its northwest corner. These were not, however, the first paintings with accurate linear perspective, which may be attributed to Ambrogio Lorenzetti (Annunciation, 1344).

Since this is about art, let’s move it to Cafe Society.

General Questions Moderator

You can’t really ascribe “the invention” of linear perspective to any one individual, although Brunelleschi is widely considered the first painter to produce fully consistent perspective compositions. If you want to go beyond popular history and internet articles to read a serious discussion of the subject that references other serious discussions of claims that perspective was known in the classical world, try Kirsti Andersen’s The Geometry of an Art: The History of the Mathematical Theory of Perspective.

Roman art got close, what’s the exact benchmark for creation since you’re looking for just one person?

I thought it was Giotto.

Apparently Giotto experimented with linear perspective but did not use a central vanishing point.

According to this powerpoint (see link above), his rules of perspective were:

•Lines and planes above eye level incline downwards when they move away
• Below eye level upwards when they move away
• Lines to the left incline inwards to the right
Masaccio, The Trinity, 1427
• The oldest perspective
• Probably measurement
• Maybe helped
by Bruneleschi

Perhaps someone can veify these details for me.

Lots of early-Ren artists innovated with representing 3D space on a 2D plane, but hadn’t cracked the math to layout a depth-of-field space and place objects within that space at various “depths” in the painting in a visually accurate way.

Giotto, Masaccio and others all innovated this way. Brunelleschi is the one credited with codifying the math for accurate representation. Isn’t that the way with most major innovations in a field? A bunch of folks start innovating, but one major player ends up getting most of the credit for a variety of reasons that they may have control over (e.g., Edison selling himself as the Light Bulb Guy) or due to later appreciation (e.g., Robert Johnson as the “key” blues guitarist that led to British blues rock in the 60’s)

Here’s Paolo Uccello’s famous Battle of San Romano: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_San_Romano - you can see where he lays out fallen lances to represent perspective axis lines in the paint and “sell” the sense of depth to the viewer.

You have a homework assignment or something?

Thanks WordMan. No this is my own research. Your feedback helps put things in perspective (no pun intended).