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Perspective construction and design: Why is the Chalice the shape it is?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Richard Talbot

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Abstract

This paper is a study and examination of one of the most complex and well-known examples of early renaissance perspective drawings, the Chalice. This drawing has become almost iconic within the history of perspective, although neither the author nor the exact date of its execution is certain. The method of its construction has also been largely misunderstood, not least by Martin Kemp and Robin Evans. Was the design of the Chalice just something to hang a particularly clever and impressive technique on, or could there be a connection between the methods employed in its depiction and its design? Why is the Chalice the shape it is? Using the experience, ideas and methods of my studio practice, I show how there is an intimate link between the geometric methods used in the depiction and the imagery that is generated. It also links the methods behind the making of this drawing to drawings of solid geometric forms by Piero della Francesca and later speculative architectural drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Talbot R

Publication type: Article

Journal: Nexus VI: Architecture and Mathematics

Year: 2006

Volume: 6

Pages: 121-134

ISSN (print): 1590-5896

ISSN (electronic): 1522-4600

Publisher: Birkhaeuser Verlag AG

URL: http://www.nexusjournal.com/the-nexus-conferences/nexus-2006/177-n2006-talbot.html

Notes: Arising from issues and questions in my drawing practice, particularly how drawing methods relate to what is drawn, this research involved the detailed examination of a perspective drawing known as the Chalice - an iconic drawing normally attributed to Uccello. Its construction is largely misunderstood, not least by Martin Kemp and Robin Evans and I used my knowledge of drawing processes and perspective construction to unravel its making, the traces of which are just visible on the drawing’s surface. The research developed three strands that relate firstly to the history of linear perspective and the drawing’s attribution, secondly to the role of drawing and perspective in architectural design, and thirdly to broader issues around drawing, representation and depiction and back to my work as an artist. Presented at the Nexus VI Conference in the Architecture School, Genoa, it was subsequently published in the accompanying Nexus Journal in Turin. This peer reviewed interdisciplinary conference invites papers on all aspects of mathematics as it relates to architecture, and in the context of questions relating to representation and design within architecture, I demonstrated that there is a direct link between the geometric methods used in the depiction of the Chalice and the forms that are generated. I also demonstrated how this works in my own practice. The research also links the methods used in the Chalice to drawings of geometric forms by Piero della Francesca and later speculative architectural drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and therefore has a bearing on its attribution. The research was also presented in Urbino at the newly established Centro Internazionale di Studi Urbino e la Prospettiva, and another peer reviewed paper from it published in L'arte della matematica nella prospettiva, in Rome. Other speakers included Kim Veltman, Judith Field, Rocco Sinisgalli, Jean Dhombres. ISBN: 8888479147


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