Artibus et Historiae no. 19 (X)

1989, ISSN 0391-9064

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JANETTA REBOLD BENTON - Perspective and the Spectator's Pattern of Circulation in Assisi and Padua

Late Duecento and early Trecento pictorial space is usually treated as a naive early step in the process of learning to depict volume correctly. This article proposes, however, that the techniques of perspective were indeed being explored at this time and were used for purposes in addition to that of the creation of illusionistic space. Evidence for this lies in the use of certain so-called "errors" in perspective - seemingly illogical directions of recession - in combination with other devices, to influence the spectator's pattern of circulation when viewing a mural cycle. To demonstrate this thesis, the upper church of S. Francesco in Assisi and the Arena Chapel in Padua, both being of great importance in that earliest phase of what John White called the "rebirth of pictorial space", as well as other murals, are analyzed from the point of view of the spectator walking through the building to see the entire program - rather than that of the reader, who sees only isolated scenes illustrated in a book.

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