Perspective: Seeing where you stand



Brook Taylor, probably by Louis Goupy, 1720 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Brook Taylor
probably by Louis Goupy
1720
NPG 1920

This distance learning package is aimed at students aged 14+ including art students, teachers and adults.

The Art of Painting by Gerard de Lairesse, 1778

The Art of Painting by Gerard de Lairesse, 1778

Introduction

'Perspective is a device used by artists to show the 3D world on a 2D surface - to make artworks look realistic'. Artists use perspective when they make art that suggests reality. Portraits are an area of art where realism is often very important too. Portraits tell you what a sitter looks like, how they dress, something of their social position and the time they live(d) in, but by placing the sitter in a setting, this context can provide an environment in which the sitter can tell you more than simply who they are. Through this relationship between the figure and their surroundings, an artist reveals something complex. Context can suggest things about the interior life of the sitter, giving clues as to what they are thinking about. It can sometimes tell us about the way the sitter wishes to be seen in the world, and how well they have communicated this with the artist. All good portraits are in essence collaborations between artist and sitter.