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The Unspoken Tool of Renaissance Art: Camera Obscura
The Camera Obscura is a natural phenomenon that has a long standing history in art. However, this tool is not often talked about and overlooked as a tool for many Renaissance artists who were praised for their impeccable detail within their paintings. Before I discuss the use of this device in Renaissance art, I will explain how it works so you can better understand how useful this tool would be for Renaissance artists. The Camera Obscura is an optical device that projects an image of it's surroundings. It is thought to be an invention that lead they way in creating the modern cameras we have today. In its simplest form, the device consists of a box or room with no light except for a small opening from which external light enters the room. The light falls onto the wall opposite of the hole, reproducing the scenery from outside of the box. The projected image will preserve the color and perspective, but rotates the image 180 degrees (making it appear upside down). Renaissance art is the distinct style of the Renaissance movement, emerging from Italy around the year 1400. Many techniques came out of Renaissance paintings, namely: perspective, foreshortening, sfumato, chiaroscuro, and attention to proper sizing of balance and proportions. In short, all of these techniques allowed Renaissance artists to create paintings with 3-dimensional qualities, including depth, with much better execution then ever before. We can see how the Camera Obscura would be a hugely beneficial tool for these Renaissance artists who wanted to make life like paintings with great attention to detail. The Renaissance artists would essentially be able to trace the image projected by the Camera Obscura. The paintings I have included in this card have realistic foreshortening and very strong contrast within the image. These are characteristics of the projected image of the Camera Obscura. David Hockney, one of the first to write about the use of the Camera Obscura in Renaissance art, suggested these qualities are due to the use of optics (a lens and camera obscura). We know true photography would not be invented until 1839 with the creation of permanent light sensitive materials that had the ability to hold the image beyond projection. It is amazing to think the foundations of photography had a much larger impact on the art world then anyone ever imagined. I hope you enjoy the accompanying Renaissance paintings I have included. I also hope I have taught you something you may have not known about photography, in turn maybe even granting photography more respect in your eyes.
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So this explains how the art during that time was able to express in full colours and details like even the details on their clothing! Thanks for the informative card!! :) Please update more card like this because this just sounds so interesting!! ^^ Thank You!
@cheerfulcallie I agree this is so interesting! I think this information is so important for people who think of photography as a lesser art form. The principles of photography have been extremely influential to art! @ameliasantos10 Yes, it helped artists with color and detailing, but the biggest contribution was the added element of depth. Before this period of time many paintings looked very flat and 2-dimensional. The camera obscura helped immensely with depth. I will try to add more cards like this, but it's not everyday that I am able to come across such an interesting topic! :) I'll try
Wow! I really had no idea this was used as a tool. Come to think of it this makes so much sense
@dillonk yes, i must agree that there is a vast difference in the arts from the early and later renaissance with the way they were painted and like you said thanks to this tool, depth was introduced into the picture! Thanks for uploading these awesome cards and well no pressure! It's just if you come across something :)
@ameliasantos10 I'm always looking for interesting topics like this, trust me I'll publish more information if I can learn about it!