ArtLex Art Dictionary




aaerial perspective - The perception of depth in nature can be enhanced by the appearance of atmospheric haze. Although this haze is most commonly humidity (or cloudiness), it could be rain or snow, smoke, or any other kind of vapor. Aerial perspective is the portrayal of that atmospheric haze -- one means to adding to an illusion of depth in depicting space on a flat surface. It is achieved by using less focus, along with bluer, lighter, and duller hues for the distant spaces and objects depicted in a picture. Be careful not to confuse aerial perspective with aerial view.

One of the first artists to use this technique was Masaccio (Italian, 1401?-1428). Aerial perspective is also referred to as atmospheric perspective.

Examples of pictures in which artists have used aerial perspective:











see thumbnail to rightLeonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa (La Joconde) (1479 - d. before 1550), c. 1503-1506, oil on wood panel, 77 x 53 cm, Louvre. Many artists have created their own versions of this image. See landscape, Renaissance, sfumato, and xenophobia.








see thumbnail to leftT. Worthington Whittredge (American, 1820-1910), Fight Below the Battlements, 1849, oil on canvas, Kresge Art Museum. Wittredge was a member of the Hudson River School of painters. Toward the horizon on the left side of this painting, we can see Whittredge's use of aerial perspective.



Look more closely at this see thumbnail to left(detail of the) deepest part of Whittredge's picture.




Compare its depth of color to that seen in see thumbnail to rightthe foreground.




Georges Seurat (French, 1859-1891), Bathing at Asnières (Une Baignade, Asnières), 1883-1884 (retouched 1887), 79 x 118 1/2 inches, National Gallery, London. Also see Neo-Impressionism.



Related Links:

Also see aerial view.






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