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Readers’ comments offzring substantial theoreCiml and practical cuntributiuns to issues that have been misedin textspublished in Leonardo are welcomed. The editors resme the rzght t oedit and shortenletters. Lettersshould be written in English and sent to the Main Editorial w e e . COMMENT ON “ANAMORPHOSISAND THE ECCENTRIC OBSERINVERTED PERSPECTIVEAND THE CONSTRUCTIONOF THE GAZE” Daniel L. Collins, in his fascinating article on anamorphic art (Imnardo25, No. 1, 73-82, 1992),contrasts the central gaze required in viewing classical perspective pictures with the eccentric point of view in which anamorphic pictures are viewed. A case can be made for making both kinds of gazes as special examples of the way all of us see everything: the fact that eyes have lenses means that, following laws of optics of which we have no control, we are seeing both centrally and anamorphically whenever we look at anything. Two examples will illustrate this. An observer sits in an actual room and sees a nearby box turn into a distorted solid with its parallel sides now proceeding to some distant vanishing point. A distant tree seen from a window appears no larger than the observer’s hand. Already the gaze is “eccentric”relative to the box and to the tree. In viewing the anamorphic skull in Holbein’s TheAmbassadors, the fact that we are seeing the skull “correctly,”i.e. from an acute angle, renders the rest of the painting itself an anamorphic blur with emaciated ambassadors and instruments! appearances”and learn how to maneuver fairly efficiently in this beautiful world of ours. Yet we learn not to be “fooled by VLADIMIR T A M A R l c2-1-(:26 Komazawa Setagaya-Ku Tokyo 154 Japan COMMENT ON “COMPUTER GRAPHICS FOR THE ANALYSIS OF PERsPECTIVEIN VISUAL ART: LAS IME”A, BY VELAZQUEZ” In so many ways Vel5zquez’s Las Meninas is an enigma-attested at least by the various conflicting and contradictory interpretations by scholars over the years. But one matter has been settled-as I reported in thisjournal in 1982 [11-namely, the source of the reflected image of the king and queen in the mirror on the far wall of the picture. In an important article published in 1980 [2],Joel Snyder and Ted Cohen drew on the laws of optics to show that the (mirror) image is reflected from the depiction on the canvas being painted by Velkquez, and not (ascustomarily assumed) from the king and queen themselves, presumably the spectators (or models) in front of the picture plane. This follows from the fact that the vanishing point of the painting is to the (viewer’s)right of the mirror. (It seems to me that the man on the stairs is indeed pointing to the very place.) In order for the reflected image to be the spectators themselves, the vanishing point would have to be in the mirror, since the mirror is parallel to the picture plane. But, since the vanishing point is to the right of the mirror, then the source of the reflected image must be to the left of the mirror-hence, the painted canvas itself. The argument is simple and consistent-and is based on optical facts [3]. I reiterate this argument because of the publication of the recent article by Frederic Chord5 (Leonardo24, No. 5, 563-567, 1991),in which he uses computer graphics to reconstruct a three-dimensional image of the spatial arrangement of the figures in V e l b quez’s picture. The approach is original and ambitious but regrettably flawed because of the author’s erroneous explanation of the mirror image. As he writes: “Theperspective in the painting places the viewer approximately in front of the mirror, occupying the place of those who are reflected in it, King Philip I Vand his queen, Marianne of Austria, who are recognizable from other royal portraits” (p. 564). Since this is not true (that is, the viewer is not in front of the mirror, which is the crucial fact), then the inference Chordi draws in the next sentence is also wrong: “This painting is from the perspective of the king and represents what he sees, with the perceptual quality of the ‘royal gaze”’ (p. 564). Chordi...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 90-91
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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