Reverse perspective

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On the left the perspective of a cube, on the right the reverse perspective.
The throne and footstool in this icon show reverse perspective, with lines converging towards the viewer.

Reverse perspective, also called inverse perspective, inverted perspective or Byzantine perspective, is a convention of perspective drawing where the further the objects are, the larger they are drawn. The lines diverge against the horizon, rather than converge as in linear perspective. Technically, the vanishing points are placed outside the painting with the illusion that they are "in front of" the painting.

The name Byzantine perspective comes from the use of this perspective in Byzantine and Russian Orthodox icons; it is also found in East Asian art, and was sometimes used in Cubism and other movements of modern art. The reasons for the convention are still debated among art historians; since the artists concerned in forming the convention did not have access to the more realistic linear perspective convention it is not clear how deliberate the effects achieved were. The scheme shows the image content as opening up and expanding, increasing the viewer's sense of awe.

A practical effect of reverse perspective is that since our vision has its greatest acuity at the focus, a visual representation which enlarges things which are not at the center will tend to even out the lack of discernment of detail, thus aiding in the envisionment of the image as a gestalt.[original research?]

Other uses of the term[edit]

The term reverse perspective confusingly may also be used of a rather different convention, found in the Art of ancient Egypt and other cultures, and also known as vertical perspective, where minor scenes at the bottom of a painted image or carved relief are shown at a far smaller scale than the main figures higher up. This system should not be understood as an attempt to convey any visual reality in the connection between the sections at different scales, whose size is dictated by their relative importance.

The term reverse perspective can also refer to the work of Patrick Hughes. Reverse perspective in this context refers to the illusion that is created when the two-dimensional perspective of a painting is reversed by the three-dimensional relief on which it is painted. The effect is to confuse the brain such that a completely false image is created that appears "to move" with the viewer.

See also[edit]

  • ArcelorMittal Orbit, which features two mirrors that produce reverse perspective reflections of viewers.

External links[edit]