Dear Cleo 18 08 24

Dearest Cleo

It is almost time for you to come home from Granny C’s and I will catch up with you over the weekend while you tell me all about the wonderful time you had. I am going to a Wedding tomorrow but in the meantime I have been studying perspective.

The first Petrus Christus painting I analysed the perspective in was TheNativity, painted in about 1460. This had a single perspectival vanishing point almost at the centre of the work, which indicated a horizon line slightly lower than a standing viewer.

Figure 1 Perspective diagram for The Nativity by Petrus Christos

It would have perhaps been better to extend the rear wall to avoid the apparent hole in the picture caused by the vanishing point.

So far so good, but then I was astonished to find that The Annunciation had 4 vanishing points, one for the floor, one for the foreground arch, one for the upper windows and one for the external view through the door

Figure 2 Perspective diagram for The Annunciation by Petrus Christos

I considered this for a while I knew that if the verticals were vertical, small margins on the receding lines would pass unnoticed, I wondered if Christus had increased the size of the picture frame to match its companion and forgotten where the original vanishing point was but to have 3 extra vanishing points seemed unlikely for a master of mathematical perspective.

Then I found this on the internet.

Figure 3 Perspective diagram for The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck

The Arnolfini Portrait has seven vanishing points which is due to it being observed perspective rather than mathematical. The Annunciation was painted by Christus ten years before The Nativity.

Suddenly it all made sense. Jan van Eyck was the painter of Bruges before he died in 1441, Christus took up that title following van Eyck’s death. Mathematical perspective was rediscovered by Brunelleschi in Florence in the first quarter of the fifteenth century but was not assimilated into the Northern Renaissance until the mid 1460’s.

Well I think I solved that little problem and I am looking forward to seeing you at the weekend.

My love as always

Mickos xx


Perspective in the Arnolfini Portrait Collier J. M,& Carleton J. L. 2014 at accessed on 24 August 2018