A-level: Atmospheric perspective explained


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Dr. Beth Harris: [0:03] The artists of the Renaissance were really interested in creating a convincing illusion of space, and one of the ways they achieved that was by using a technique called “atmospheric” or “aerial” perspective.

Dr. Steven Zucker: [0:16] We often think about linear perspective, but for linear perspective, very often you need to have architecture. But for a landscape, you use atmospheric perspective.

Dr. Harris: [0:24] An atmospheric perspective has two components. One is [that] forms in the distance are represented with less clarity than forms in the foreground.

Dr. Zucker: [0:34] If we look at a distant mountain range, we don’t have the detail that we have when we look at something that’s close to us.

[0:39] Similarly, if we look at a distant mountain range, that mountain range is being seen through more atmosphere, and so it loses the specificity of its color, and it tends to look lighter and bluer.

Dr. Harris: [0:50] The artists of the Renaissance are observing the world around them and basing their art on the way that we actually visually experience the world.

Dr. Zucker: [0:59] It is an interesting distinction. Instead of painting what they know that distant mountain looks like, as if they were up close to it, they’re painting the visual phenomenon. And there you have it, atmospheric perspective.

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Cite this page as: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker, "A-level: Atmospheric perspective explained," in Smarthistory, June 7, 2017, accessed July 19, 2024, https://smarthistory.org/atmospheric-perspective-2/.