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Perspective as Form and Medium

the Interplay of Proportion Systems
and Perspective

SolInvictus Press 2006

Theatrum Mundi

man as spectacle for the gods

theatron : a place for seeing

theasthai : to gaze at

Pedro Calderón de la Barca named his 1635 work:

El gran teatro del mundo (The Great Theater of
the World)
The fascination with theater is apparent in the carefully “staged” paintings,
the frequent use of the “play within a play,” the rhetoric of gesture in painting,
the choreographed composition (choreia meaning dance in its ceremonial
aspect and graphein meaning to write, to paint.)

A Greek temporary stage

Pronomos Painter:
the cast of a satyr play
during a back-stage celebration
Greek theatre,
typical design
Roman theatre,
typical design
Mérida Roman theatre - Spain
The dialogue between painting and theater is as old as the first
aesthetic treatises from antiquity.

Room of the Room of the Villa of Oplontis Villa of Oplontis 3D

Masks Masks wall painting reconstruction
wall painting 3D reconstruction

[Created by Richard Beacham, University of Warwick, and the THEATRON

Roman wall paintings
inspired by
theatrical scenery. They
show uses of stage décor.

[Slide of Susan Bonvallet]

The Middle Ages
The “Quem quaeritis” Trope
The ’trope” in this case was a musical arrangement of
a set dialogue enacting a specific episode from the
New Testament… incorporated into the Easter
Sunday liturgy. (The church liturgy, or order of
service, was codified by Bishop Ethelwold about 925.)
Three priests, with their albs, or vestments, over their
heads played the parts of the three Marys
approaching the sepulchre (represented by the
church altar with the cross removed) to anoint the
body of Christ. A fourth priest, playing the part of the
angel guarding the tomb, asks them “Whom do you
seek?” (“Quem quaeritis?” in Latin), and they reply
that they are looking for Christ, whereupon the ‘angel’
chants “He is risen” and the congregation then sings
the “Te Deum.” This joyous occasion, following Good
Friday and the forty days of Lent, was later
dramatically enhanced, so it is supposed, by the
addition of a playlet involving a comic interchange
between the three Marys and a spice merchant at a
stall in the church aisle. Over time, the church interior
accommodated several stages, called ‘mansions’ or
in Latin ‘loci’…
[Anthony M. Watts,]
Gian Martino

Fra Angelico
(Guido di Pietro
da Mugello)

Simultaneous staging was a

distinctive characteristic of
medieval theatre.
Medieval plays were staged on a
number of small "platforms“, the
performer and the audience
(congregation) would move from
one "platform" (or scene) to the
next. The station, or mansion [as it
came to be known in France], was
the scenic structure used to
locate the action of the play.
Painters used the same basic
Sassetta (Stefano di
Giovanni di Consolo)
Gentile da Fabriano
(Gentile di Niccolò
di Giovanni Massi)
macchina teatrale medioevale
[medieval theatrical machinery]
Domenico Ghirlandaio - The Annunciation,
Firenze, church of S. Maria Novella , detail
[diagram by Caterina Pirina]
Domenico Ghirlandaio

The work as a scenographic

machine – episodes montage

[diagrams by Caterina Pirina]

Sacred representation with multiple stage,
scenery for the Valenciennes Mystery Play,
1547, by Hubert Cailleau

(Domenico de
Domenico Veneziano
(Domenico de Bartolomeo),
predella fragment
Lorenzo Cavaro,1501

School of Fra Filippo Lippi,

predella panels
This early 16th century altarpiece from
Lofta [Sweden] shows the Nativity of Theatre - moveable pageant wagons
Jesus almost as figures on a theatre
Humanist comedy, woodcut Terence, as performed in the Renaissance
by G. Parabosco, Il Pellegrino,
1552, Venezia

Renaissance stage gestures

Tudor drama Theatre show, Cambrai,
miniature of the 16th century

Moral comedy Morality figures

William Kemp,
An actor an Elizabethan clown

An intriguing view of a stage comes

from an embroidery from Hardwick Anonymous, portrait of Elizabeth I
Castle in England.
Terry A. Gray’s reconstruction of
Shakespeare’s Globe

The Swan Theatre

Blackfriars in London
[image collected by Larry Wild]
1620 and 1663 title
pages of Christopher
Marlowe's Dr. Faustus
The Almagro Theatre in Spain (near Madrid), a survival from
the Renaissance period
Raffaello Sanzio,
sketch for
stage set design
Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza
designed by Andrea Palladio
(1580 - 1584)

Neoclassical stage with proscenium arch [from

Paula S.Berggren, photo Philip Greenspun]

Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza,

with Vincenzo Scamozzi’s wooden sets
[from Wikipedia]
Giovanni Battista Aleotti,
Teatro Farnese, Parma
Cardinal Richelieu and King Louis XIII Ekhof theatre, Gotha, a still
and his Queen, in the Cardinal’s private functional baroque theatre;
The Friedenstein Castle and its theatre have
theatre in 1641. been reconstructed according to the plans of
Federic I of Saxony-Gotha-Altenburg around
1681 [Photos Lutz Ebhardt]
Inigo Jones’ designs for masques in the Stuart Court: a set
design for Florimene and the design for the "House of Fame"
from The Masque of Queens.
Inigo Jones,
King's and Queen's costumes

Inigo Jones,
two lady masquers

Portrait of Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford,

dressed in her masque costume for Ben Jonson's
Masque Hymenaei (1606) for the marriage of the
Earl of Essex and Lady Frances Howard.
Inigo Jones,
designs for Court masques
Pieter Jacobsz Codde, Actors' Changing Room
Set design by Bartolomeo Neroni
(Il Riccio) for l'Ortensio (1562)

Giacomo Torelli,
Stage-set design by Baldassare Peruzzi

Panthea, Cyrus, and Araspus, 1631-34
[the background looks like painted set Stage-set design by
backdrops] Sebastiano Serlio
Scene for the Intermedio
of La pellegrina by
Girolamo Bargagli, 1589

Intermedi, the origins of Italian Melodramma

(musical drama/opera):

Forma di intrattenimento spettacolare, di origine

italiana, basata su musica, ballo, canto, Bernardo Buontalenti,
declamazione ed eseguita tra un atto e l’altro di disegno for the second
tragedie, commedie, favole pastorali e simili. Intermedio of 1589,
Biblioteca Nazionale
[Form of entertainment based on music, dance, Centrale, Firenze
singing, declamation, performed between the
acts of tragedies, comedies, pastoral fables
and similar.]
Caravaggio (Merisi Michelangelo),
Suonatore di Liuto (The Lute-Player)
‘Ballet de cour’, 16th century
Louis XIV dancing in the Ballet royal de la nuit

Court ballet performed before Maximilian,

Duke of Bavaria, in Vlasislav Hall, Prague
Castle, in 1617.
Representation of Alceste by Jean-Baptiste Lully
Costume design
for Alceste by
Jean-Baptiste Lully :
Louis XIV
representing the sun
Costume designs for
court representations
Commedia dell’Arte

Il Capitano

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo,
Commedia dell’Arte performance, 1657
Jean-Antoine Watteau, Italian Comedians
The fourth wall is the imaginary invisible wall at the front of the stage.
It is part of the suspension of disbelief and may be connected to exploitation of
an audience's familiarity with the conventions. When an actor addresses the
audience directly, it is called "Breaking the Fourth Wall."

Hugo van der Goes
Pontormo (Jacopo Carucci),
Madonna and child with St Ann, St
Sebastian, St Peter, St Benedict and
the good thief,
the figure on the right ‘breaks the
fourth wall’
Breaking the Fourth Wall:

El Greco
(Domenikos Theotokopoulos),
[in the three versions of
the painting, the figure
located on the left and
wearing a suit of armour
gazes out of the
El Greco
Bearsted Collection,
Upton House, Warwickshire
El Greco
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
The Modern Era Study for curtain
(Don Carlos)
Mario Sironi

for Don Carlos

Costumes for I Lombardi

The Modern Era

Mario Sironi

Stage designs for

Ferruccio Busoni,
Dottor Faust,
1964 Florence
Felice Casorati, stage set The Modern Era
design for Elektra

André Derain, stage set

design for Fastes, 1933
Felice Casorati,
stage set design
Didone e Enea

André Derain, costume

sketch for Fastes
André Derain,
stage set design for
La Boutique Fantasque

The Modern Era

André Derain, La Boutique Fantasque 1950, backdrop design

André Derain,
costume sketch for a
daughter of the devil
in Que le diable
l'emporte by Roland
Petit, 1948

André Derain, sketch for the curtain of

La Concurrence

André Derain, costume

sketch for
Geneviève de Brabant
by Erik Satie, 1926

André Derain,
costume sketch
for the
Fée des Fleurs
The Modern Era in Les Songes
The Modern Era

Juan Gris (Jose Victoriano Gonzalez),

costumes for the ballet Les Tentations de la Bergère
The Modern Era

Gino Severini, stage set design for

Orazio Vecchi’s 1594 L’Amfiparnaso

Gino Severini, costume

for Orazio Vecchi’s
1594 L’Amfiparnaso
The Modern Era

Pablo Picasso, curtain for the ballet "Parade"

The ancient art of puppetry:
man is a puppet of the gods

Li Romans du Bon Roi

Alixandre (The Romance of
Alexander) which was written
Hortus Deliciarum ("The Garden of Delights") by in 1338 and illuminated by
Harrad von Landsberg, in Strasbourg, dated Jehan de Grise in 1344
AD 1170 [] (Bodleian Library, Oxford)
The showman stands in front of the stage. He partly
narrates and partly interacts with the puppets.
Pageant and Festivity
Frederic II Stupor Mundi

Wenceslas II of Bohemia,
The coronation of William I 14th-century manuscript
on Christmas Day, 1066 Sacre of Philippe III le Hardi illumination
Frederic II, wall painting in Melfi castle

Frederic II of Hohenstaufen,
miniature from his
De Arte Venandi cum Avibus
[art of hunting with birds]
A boar hunt
Matteo Giovannetti di Viterbo, Scenes of hunting and fishing, Palace of the Popes, Avignon
Matteo Giovannetti di Viterbo,
Scenes of hunting and fishing, Palace of the Popes, Avignon
Medieval minstrels
Master of Engelbert of
a sung chain and ring
dance (carole)
within a garden
corresponding to the
locus amoenus and
the hortus conclusus
Les entremets spectacles,
Grandes Chroniques de France,
14th century
Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale
Miniatures by the Limbourg brothers:
Court Epiphany Banquet Court May Day
Double page from René of Anjou’s Book of Tournaments, 1480-1490
Stately Banquet,
Histoire d'Olivier de Castille et d'Artus d'Algarbe,
Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale
Entry of Isabeau de Bavière Tournament in 1473
into Paris
Marriage of Bianca Maria Visconti
and Francesco Sforza, 15th century

Louis XI presiding a chapter Francesco del Cossa, the Ferrara Palio

of the Saint-Michel order
Philip the Good, duke of
Burgundy, being presented
with a book by Bertrandon
de la Broquière at the siege
of Mussy l'Evêque
Les Grandes Chroniques de France
Dagobert visiting the construction site
of Saint-Denis

France, Poitiers, 15th century

Artist : Robinet Testard

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France,

Département des manuscrits Français 2609
Jean Fouquet,
the building
of a cathedral
Initial project
according to a medal
by Matteo de' Pasti

Tempio Malatestiano, Rimini,

designed by Leon Battista Alberti
Piero della Francesca

Wall painting in the Tempio Malatestiano Portrait of Sigismondo

Dance at the Burgundian court
Gentile Bellini,
Procession in Piazza San Marco, 1496,
Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice
Lucas Cranach the Elder
(Kronach 1472-1553 Weimar)
Stag Hunt of the Elector Frederick the Wise
H 80 cm, W 114 cm
Elizabethan royal hunt
Apollonio di Giovanni,
Acrobats and jesters, 15th
century, cassone detail,
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Giorgio Vasari, Giostra in

Piazza Santa Croce (Joust
in Piazza Santa Croce),
1555-65, Palazzo Vecchio,

Miniature from the Ordine delle

nozze di Costanzo Sforza e
Camilla d'Aragona, Cod. Urb. Lat.
Albrecht Dürer, Triumphal Chariot
Allegorical wagons ( on the
left, Apollo and the Muses
confront the Furies.)

La Joyeuse et magnifique Entree de

Monseigneur Francoys, Fils de
France, ... Duc de Brabant, en sa
tres renommee ville d'Anvers.
C. Plantin: Antwerp (Belgium), 1582.
[British Library]
Allegorical devices for the Parisian entry
of Henry II on the 16th of June, 1549

Triumphal arch
personifying the
grandeur and prosperity
of the Gallican past

Obelisk on the back of a rhinoceros Specially built theatre for

and embodying all the glory of France tournaments
Queen Elizabeth, attended by Fame, and a Herald of
Arms, riding in an elaborate chariot. Sir William Teshe,
England 1570. British Library
Sébastien Le Clerc,
Marriage of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici

Catherine de‘ Medici's Magical Talisman

Life at the Court of
Catherine de’ Medici,
16th Century,
by Johannes Sadeler

Miniature of Catherine de’ Medici

attributed to Jean Clouet
Anonymous, Ball for the wedding of the Duc de Joyeuse
The Wedding Dance

Peasant Dance

Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Pieter Jacobsz. Codde, Dancing Party
Diego Rodríguez
de Silva y Velázquez,
Philip IV as a Hunter
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez,
'Philip IV hunting Wild Boar ('La Tela Real')'
Gabriel Bella, Gabriel Bella,
L'ultimo giorno di Carnevale Il gioco del calcio a Sant'Alvise
(Last day of Carnival,)1788? (Ball playing at Sant’Alvise,)
post 1779?
Royal Court Painter Francisco de Goya

Charles Le Brun
premier peintre du roi,