THE NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE - Part 2

After having read on the previous page the method to find the perspectives, empirical, linear or narrative, I now offer you some glances on significant works with

Fra ANGELICCO - UCCELLO - BOTTICELLI

Double horizon lines with Fra Angelico

Here is one of the Annunciation that Fra Angelico painted in 1437 in Florence, long after Fillipo Brunelleschi demonstrated the theoretical and practical principles of perspective in 1415 in the same city.

With a quick glance, the perspective technique gives the impression of being respected. Therefore we quickly forget this perspective to focus on the characters, colors, gestures.

I would not go back to the description, the symbols, the sobriety which have already been widely commented on by specialists.

Fra Angelico - Annonciation - 1437 - Florence Couvent San Marco - photo Guy Mauchamp

Fra ANGELICO - Annonciation - 1437 - Couvent de san Marco, Florence - Photo Guy Mauchamp

By cons it is interesting to look at the perspective of this scene which hides a message if we can reveal it.

That is not always the case...

For example, with the drawing below, the author has unfortunately self-deluded by inventing a focal point of flight which does not exist and with even the drawing of two lines of flight which he imagined (on the right ). This person then comments on this announcement , without verifying it, that " the linear perspective is of high geometric precision in following the details of the architecture ."  

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This attitude, quite frequent, is damaging because in fact it is the opposite that can be observed with this Annunciation. Indeed, Fra Angelico applies the narrative perspective here with three vanishing points and two horizon lines. The need to make people feel and to tell seems more important than to follow a rigorous technique of perspective.

Let's see how it translates concretely, always by being precise and then carrying out the checks of congruent cross-checks, for the satisfaction and the pleasure of all.

 

Let's draw blind, one after the other, the high vanishing lines, those that I call "sky" (in blue).

First surprise: the left lines meet on the left corner of the small window, while the right vanishing lines meet on the right corner of this same window.

We can therefore determine a horizon line (in purple) wedged on the upper edge of the window which we suppose to be that of Marie's bedroom.

Fra ANGELICO - Annunciation - narrative perspective with two focal points
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Now it turns out that this horizon line is precisely that of the harmonic grid of thirds (in purple).

This grid of thirds symbolizes the Holy Trinity in religious paintings. She frames the small window with bars and delimits the location of the walled garden, of Gabriel then of Marie, with notions of interior and exterior.

Fra ANGELICO - Annunciation - sky perspective and thirds grid

Let's see the lines of flight from the ground below: there are only two lines of flight to draw behind the angel. One of them goes through the middle finger of Gabriel.

Then, you may have noticed that there is an inconsistency in the vaults above Gabriel which allows to draw a third line of flight very different from the sky lines. These three lines, perhaps to recall the trinity, meet at the same point.

Fra ANGELICO Annonciation - perspercive narrative avec Gabriel

This vanishing point makes it possible to determine a second singular horizon line (in pink below) which I will call spiritual horizon line . The method of these pink lines was also used by Raphaël in his Annunciation of 1504 (see the page The narrative perspective 2)

Fra ANGELICO - Annunciation - perspective and spiritual horizon
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This spiritual horizon line passes through Gabriel's nose, which is a redundant iconographic point in Christian religious scenes, but which remains to be deciphered. It would seem to symbolize spiritual transcendence .

One detail caught my attention, it is the curious point of fabric of Marie 's blue tunic which forms what I call "a marker". Now by drawing a vertical at the point of spiritual vanishing, it passes through this marker, as if to underline the importance of this spiritual vertical which, higher up, tangents the medallion on the upper facade . Unfortunately it is very difficult to comment on this very stripped medallion when in his previous Annunciation of Cortona in 1434, Fra Angelico had placed God the Father there.

There are other explorations to note, in particular with:

- the lines of the soul of Gabriel and Mary which position the spiritual horizon line

- the golden harmonic grid which is governed by the soul of Gabriel and which also determines a third important horizon line in the composition of Fra Angelico.

- In Marie's bedroom, the small window with bars is pointed with great insistence by a convergence of composition lines ...

You can extend these explorations on this page:

FOLLOWING FRA ANGELICCO'S NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE

Linear and narrative perspective with Paolo Uccello

"The Miracle of the Profane Host" is the title of a predella of 6 panels, painted by Paolo UCCELLO -1469 - Urbino.

The narrative perspective of Ucello is present in four of the six panels with a treatment specific to each moment of this story, a kind of comic book before the hour.

UCCELLO La profanation de l'Hostie - 1469.

The first panel shows a woman at a merchant exchanging a coat for a host.

Architecture is a mixture of linear perspective and narrative perspective.

Below, the vanishing lines (in blue) focus at a point on a horizon line.

This sky line passes through the woman's eye and the man's nose. With those

points of the 1st rule of composition, Ucello installs a link between the two

characters. I remind you that the nose is here a religious iconographic symbol.

UCCELLO - The Host - sky perspective posed on the eye and nose
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The lines of flight from the ground focus on the same point of flight from the sky.

As against other creepage disturb this apparent order. So there are three vanishing points behind the woman.

There is also a line of flight that points to the woman's mouth.

UCCELLO - The Host - sky perspective posed on the eye and nose

This complexity of vanishing points creates a disorder which seems to reflect the disorder sown by the desecration of the host exchanged for a cloak .

UCCELLO - The Host - sky perspective posed on the eye and mouth

Below, with the third panel in this series, a religious procession officiates to bless this profaned host again. Uccello still makes use of the multi-focal perspective with three horizon lines . the vanishing lines (in green) are grouped according to a hierarchy starting from the bottom to the top of the altar. These vanishing points respond to the first rule of composition by pointing the mouth of the singing priest, the symbolic nose of religious transcendence , the eye and finally the vanishing line of the altar points the soul on the forehead of this priest. .

It seems that with this office the religious things find their ordinance and their peace.

UCELLO - The profaned host - detail of the panel 3 - 1469 - The lines of flight present three lines of horizon wedged on the mouth, the nose and the eye of the officiating priest .

UCELLO - The profaned host - detail of the panel 3 - 1469 - The lines of flight present three lines of horizon wedged on the mouth, the nose and the eye of the officiating priest .

Narrative perspective with Botticelli

I had the pleasure of seeing this charming painting by Botticelli at the Petit Palais in Avignon. By observing the architecture well the disorganized aspect feels good. But it is not really disorder but on the contrary a thoughtful and sensitive construction.

Botticelli - Verge à l'enfant - 1467, Avignon, photo Guy Mauchamp

Sandro BOTTICELLI - Vierge allaitant - 1467 - Avignon - Photo gm

1 - Horizon line on the golden grid

Let us proceed in stages by first drawing the lines of flight from the small opening above Jesus.

Three vanishing lines in light yellow (the colors are personal choices) converge on the knot of Marie's bodice.

The symbolizing knot that connects, the link.

Boticcelli narrative perspective and horizon line on the golden grid
Boticcelli narrative perspective and horizon line on the golden grid and Marie's soul line

The three vanishing lines in light yellow focus on the golden harmonic grid, that of the golden ratio Phi. This golden grid conditions the thumb and nose of Jesus, a nose that I have already mentioned in the context of a religious scene.

The horizon line in light yellow passes through a small golden star embroidered on Marie's tunic, a star which acts as a marker.

On the right image are drawn in red the lines of the soul of Mary and her 9 ° look in blue. These lines frame the horizon line and the golden grid on the edge of the format.

2 - Horizon line on Marie's gaze

Now draw the lines of flight above the window.

Boticcelli narrative perspective and horizon of Mary
Botticelli - Madonna and Child - narrative perspective.

The blue vanishing lines are mono-focal and the horizon line does not seem to be related to what is visible. By drawing the lines of gaze of Mary's right eye and the 9 ° gaze line of Jesus, an invisible relationship overlaps on the format with this second horizon line.

3 - Horizon line on the median

Boticcelli narrative perspective 3rd horizon line on the median
Boticcelli perspective narrative 3ème ligne d'horizon sur la médiane sous le regard de Jésus

The blue vanishing lines are mono-focal and the horizon line does not seem to be related to what is visible. This horizon line is precisely that of the median of the format. The 18 ° look (in dark blue) of the soul of Jesus is wedged on this median on the upper edge of the format.

4 - Horizon line on the soul of Jesus

Boticcelli narrative perspective 4th horizon line on jesus soul
Boticcelli narrative perspective with Jesus looks

And finally, two discrete vanishing lines on the side of Mary come to focus on the point between the eyebrows of Jesus that I call the point of the soul. This reference point on the forehead corresponds to the 1st rule of composition but is only present for the holy family, saints and important people according to the theme of the table. This focal point on the forehead of Jesus determines the fourth horizon line that I call the horizon of the soul of Jesus.

The four skylines Botticelli

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The four focal points are distributed on either side of the median of the format. What is a recurring operation in the narrative perspective among the painters of the Renaissance.

The horizon lines seem to work in pairs:

- Two focal points are to the right of the median, and the other two focal points are to the left of the median.

- There are two horizon lines determined by two groups of vanishing lines on the side of Jesus, and two groups of vanishing lines on the side of Mary.

- There are two horizon lines based on the harmonic grids: the median and the golden one.

- There are two horizon lines based on the looks and souls of Jesus and Mary.

 

There is a kind of binary symmetry in the functioning of these horizon lines.

Narrative perspective with Del COSSA

This binary functioning around a median is found with the narrative perspective of Del Cossa and his Annunciation visible at the Gemaldegalerie in Dresden.

- The vanishing lines from the ground in green converge on a focal point in the middle of the central column. This point determines an earth horizon line

- The vanishing lines of the blue ceiling converge on a focal point just below the earth point. This point determines a sky horizon line.

Del Cossa - Annunciation - Narrative perspective with two lines of sky and earth.

Del COSSA - Annunciation (detail) - 1472 - Gemaldegalerie Dresden - Photo Guy Mauchamp

These two horizon lines are not related to elements visible directly on the board. They are linked to the constructions of composition: the lines of light and shadow, the looks of the characters and the golden measures.

 

The crossing of the earth horizon which is above, with the sky horizon which is below is a method frequently used by Italian painters, for example with De Vinci, Crivelli, Massina, Memling, etc. This method seems to illustrate an old text from the emerald table (1) mentioning that what is above is like what is below and what is below is like what is above . But here, the terrestrial incarnation of a divine messenger sent from the sky would come to connect for the good of humanity the high and the low, the sky and the earth. The viewer of this narrative perspective is thus immersed in a sensitive representation of this alchemical idea of ​​correspondence between the macrocosm and the microcosm .

 

 

1: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_d%27%C3%A9meraude

The continuation of the narrative perspective:

This approach continues with other aspects of the narrative perspective.

To find out, go to the pages:

Narrative perspective with Leonardo Da Vinci

 

Singular perspective with Pedro Berruguete

 

Do not hesitate to leave your comment, your questions at the bottom of the page, my pleasure is to be able to discuss the pictorial composition. Thank you.

 

Guy MAUCHAMP

Work protected by copyright © guymauchamp U79J1B9 and a deposit at SGDL Paris.