Science of Art: Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat

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Overview

For almost five hundred years the central goal of European painting was the imitation of nature. Many artist and theorists, believing that imitation must be based on scientific principles, found inspiration or guidance in two branches of optics--the geometrical science of perspective and the physical science of colour. In this pathbreaking and highly illustrated book Martin Kemp examines the major optically orientated examples of artistic theory and practice from the Renaissance...
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1990 Hardcover New 0300043376. Flawless copy, brand new, pristine, never opened-375 pages. From Library Journal: "This work, one of the most lucidly written art history books in ... recent memory, addresses a topic of inherent complexity and great recent interest. Kemp (Univ. Of St. Andrews), who has written on Leonardo, discusses perspective and optic theories as they related to the central problem of European painting for half a millennium, the verisimilar depiction of nature. The first part of the book discusses perspective theory and practice and the use of devices that led toward photography. In the second part, Kemp explores optic theories derived from Aristotle and from Newton and their theoretical and practical impacts on painting. The only minor cavil is the unclear order of the select bibliography; otherwise, this is a superb and thoughtful book, with a level of writing to which few can aspire. Highly recommended for general as well as special collections. " Read more Show Less

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Overview

For almost five hundred years the central goal of European painting was the imitation of nature. Many artist and theorists, believing that imitation must be based on scientific principles, found inspiration or guidance in two branches of optics--the geometrical science of perspective and the physical science of colour. In this pathbreaking and highly illustrated book Martin Kemp examines the major optically orientated examples of artistic theory and practice from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This work, one of the most lucidly written art history books in recent memory, addresses a topic of inherent complexity and great recent interest. Kemp (Univ. of St. Andrews), who has written on Leonardo, discusses perspective and optic theories as they related to the central problem of European painting for half a millennium, the verisimilar depiction of nature. The first part of the book discusses perspective theory and practice and the use of devices that led toward photography. In the second part, Kemp explores optic theories derived from Aristotle and from Newton and their theoretical and practical impacts on painting. The only minor cavil is the unclear order of the select bibliography; otherwise, this is a superb and thoughtful book, with a level of writing to which few can aspire. Highly recommended for general as well as special collections.-- Jack Perry Brown, Ryerson & Burnham Libs . , Art Inst. of Chicago
Booknews
Kemp (fine arts, U. of St. Andrews) discusses the invention of perspective, and then traces the relationship between theory and practice in works by such artists as Velazquez, Rubens, Poussin, and Turner. He also examines the variety of mechanical and optical devices that were precursors to photography, and explores the incorporation of color theory in painting, in the work of Runge, Turner, Seurat, and others. With some 550 b&w illustrations and 16 color plates. 101/4x111/2 Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300043372
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1989
  • Pages: 384

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  • Posted April 18, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    The Marriage of Science and Art In "The Science of Art&quo

    The Marriage of Science and Art

    In "The Science of Art", Martin Kemp (an emeritus professor of history of art at University of Oxford who is considered one of the world's leading experts on the art of Leonardo da Vinci and visualization in art and science) details the use of geometrical science of perspective and physical science of color in painting within the time period 1400-1800. In this time, the central goal of artists and theorists was the imitation of nature based on scientific principles. This book is academic and dry as well as beautiful and complex.

    I was already quite familiar with perspective, as I finished The Painter's Secret Geometry recently, so I skimmed until section two on mechanical devises. Christopher Wren's perspective machine, the Claude glass, and Pierre Edouard Frer's Zograscope fascinated me. Although it felt a bit out of place, section three is interesting for its examination of color before and after Newton.

    This is an important book that will endure because its makes us aware in a new way of the continuity, complexity, and ultimately the beauty of the European ideals that have linked art and science since the Renaissance and given Western culture its unique place in history.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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