Many scholars believe that linear perspective existed in classical antiquity, but a fresh examination of two key texts in Vitruvius shows that 1.2.2 is about modularity and symmetria
, while 7.Pr.11 describes shading (skiagraphia
). Moreover, these new interpretations are firmly based on the classical understanding of optics and the history of painting (e.g., Pliny the Elder). A third text (Philostratus, Imagines
1.4.2) suggests that the design of Roman wall painting depends on concentric circles. Philostratus’ system is then used to successfully make facsimiles of five walls, representing Styles II, III, and IV of Roman wall painting. Hence, linear perspective and its relatives, such as Panofsky’s vanishing vertical axis, should not be imposed retrospectively where they never existed.
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