The Evolution Of Linear Perspective In Art, What Is It?

The Evolution Of Linear Perspective In Art, What Is It?

Linear perspective in art drawing and painting took prominent forms during the 14th century. From this point in time, the artists were able to create three-dimensional paintings and drawings that represented the world more realistically.

The ancient Romans and Greeks were the first to work on the linear perspective and established mathematical laws regarding it.

However, mankind did not see any major inclusions of linear perspective in art forms during the middle ages. Later, Filippo Brunelleschi (regarded as the Father of Italian Architecture) developed the twin color panels, which could depict the buildings of Florence in Italy more realistically. These paintings of the renaissance period had a linear perspective and depth to them.

What is Linear Perspective in art?

Linear perspective is a technique used in art to create the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality on a two-dimensional surface, such as a canvas or a drawing paper. It was developed during the Renaissance and has been a fundamental principle of Western art ever since.

Linear perspective is based on the idea that objects in the distance appear smaller and less distinct than objects that are closer to the viewer. This is because light from the distant objects is scattered and absorbed by the atmosphere, causing the image to appear less clear and detailed.

To create the illusion of depth and distance in a drawing or painting, artists use a set of guidelines called the "perspective grid." This grid is a set of imaginary lines that converge at a single point on the horizon, known as the "vanishing point." The lines on the grid represent the edges of objects in the scene, and the artist uses them to gauge the relative size and position of objects in the composition.

The Advantage of Linear Perspective 

Linear perspective is an important tool for creating realistic depictions of space and depth in art. It allows the artist to create the illusion of a three-dimensional world on a flat surface, and it helps the viewer to feel as though they are looking into a real, tangible space.

The Linear Perspective in Art

The spatial and depth elements can be included by appropriate positioning of the objects of the group and sizing within the painting. Linear perspective requires three important components:

  1. Horizon line

  2. Vanishing point

  3. Parallel or orthogonal lines

In a linear perspective of an image, the artist includes the horizon line on the pictures or painting surfaces. The orthogonal or parallel lines also meet the horizon lines at the vanishing point. 

Artists Who Mastered the Linear Perspective

During the 15th century, painters and artists started to master the art of linear perspective and gained expertise in adding space and depth dimensions to two-dimensional surfaces and images. Giotto di Bondone (1267 to 1337) was one of the earliest artists of the early Renaissance period to work on the perspective.

His painting techniques are known to be the precursors to the linear perspective. Some of the best-known artists of the renaissance period including Leonardo da Vinci held immense expertise in linear perspective and created paintings resembling the real human world.

Da Vinci regarded these paintings as a window through which the audiences can peek through. He found the perspective to be the vision of the scenes behind the clear and flat glass.

Apart from the Italian renaissance and the painters of the times, linear perspective was widely incorporated in the art forms of other regions and cultures as well.

For instance, Jan Van Eyck (a well-known painter from the Netherlands and an important figure of the North European Renaissance) was also an expert in incorporating the linear perspective in his artworks. He was ahead of Leonardo da Vinci by around 50 years in this regard.


Linear Perspective Types 

Linear perspective also evolved into distinct types and forms. As of now, multiple linear perspectives can be used by artists for creating space and depth in art forms. Some of these perspectives that have been important for artworks are listed below:

One-Point Perspective 

In this linear perspective, there is a single vanishing point, which is located on the original line. The perspective is also often used to depict and portray hallways, railroads, and the room interiors.

Two-Point Perspective

The two-point perspective is also called the angular perspective or the three-quarter perspective. It has two vanishing points located on the horizon line and can be used to depict the corners of homes/buildings on any street.

The two different sides of the building will vanish in the right and left direction, thereby creating multiple vanishing points and creating depth and space.

Atmospheric Perspective

The atmospheric linear perspective is also called aerial perspective as it creates an illusion of space and depth in two dimensions. However here the sense of depth is not created through the vanishing points or the horizontal lines, but due to the appropriate use of the color scheme.

Leonardo da Vinci was the first to coin this term when he observed it in one of his works (Painting Treatise). The colors in the distance appear weaker due to the perspective of the person looking at the painting.

An object that is placed further away in the painting will have more blurry view edges and will appear lighter in shades and colors due to the distance. William Turner was known to hold immense expertise in atmospheric perspective and incorporated it into his art forms including landscape buildings.

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The Transitional Evolution of Linear Perspective

Linear perspective remained the predominant way of creating the illusion of space and depth in drawings and paintings for a considerable time. The perspective and the design form also influenced many of the artists of the later generations and impacted the medieval and modern art movements as well.

For instance, baroque art, impressionism, and new classical art forms were influenced by the linear perspective. Many new reforms were introduced later and artists challenged the existing status quo and principles.

New approaches to the designs and compositions were also explored. Paul Cezanne was one of the leading artists in introducing new design approaches to painting compositions.

Cubism and other Avant-Garde evolutions and movements during the 1900s altered several rules and principles of linear perspective.


The system of linear perspective and the use of horizontal and parallel lines for creating space and depth illusion was born out of the increased interest in depicting the real world.

The perspective helped artists create paintings with a sense of space and depth in three dimensions, which was an evolution over the earlier two-dimension paintings and art forms.

However, like other art methods, the perspective has also evolved with time. There are many new compositions, ideas, and elements being included in the art forms and paintings by the artists of the newer generations.

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