BOOKS ON ARCHITECTURE
|| Pélerin, Jean, called Viator
|| De artificiali perspectiva...
|| Toul, P. Jacques, 1505
|| Paris, Ensba, Masson 1076
edition of the De artificiali perspectiva was printed in Toul
in 1505. Copies of it are rather rare. The volume is a folio of 46 unnumbered
leaves. The Latin text is printed on both sides of the page on three
leaves, the illustrations on the front sides of 37 leaves, and the French
text is printed on both sides of three pages.
text is illustrated: on the front side of the first leaf the "linea piramidalis" or "orizontalis" is outlined,
on which are placed the principal point for one-point perspective and
the two points for two-point perspective. On the other side of the same
folio appears the line called the horizon line, on which the fixed points
of the compass opening are marked ("cum circino apte aperto").
A third engraving, on the front of the text’s second folio, illustrates
the "figures", simple surfaces and volumes. These are
the only images inserted in the the text, in close connection with it.
They do not reappear in the French text. The "figures exemplaires" are placed between this text in the common language and the
Latin text, on independent plates; they have no direct connection with
the text, making up a collection of models. It is interesting to point
out that in the cases where the architecture is predominant, the plan
appears, with a minimum of indications to accomplish the foreshortening.
The drawings, all outlines, are traditionally attributed to Jean Pélerin
artificiali perspectiva is the first printed treatise on perspective:
the De pictura by Leon Battista Alberti, the De perspectiva
pingendi by Piero della Francesca and Leonardo da Vinci’s
treatise were still in manuscript form in 1505. Viator was transmitting
a method based on two "points principaux", which, according
to studies made by Erwin Panofsky, then by Liliane Brion-Guerry, was
considered to be the product of a specifically French culture, in opposition
or quasi-opposition to the method of the intersection of visual rays
on a line perpendicular to the horizon line, described by Alberti. The
idea advanced by Panofsky that Alberti’s method corresponded to
the "construzione legittima" imagined by Brunelleschi
contributed to reinforce that "national" polarization,
opposing Viator’s method to the "modo ottimo" taught
by Alberti in his De pictura.
recent studies have shown that the term and the concept of « costruzione
legittima » were anachronisms, insofar as they were first worked
out by Heinrich Ludwig in 1882. In addition we know that the method
with two "points principaux"» was known in Italy around
1445. The method is clearly visible in the sinopia of the Nativité
painted by Paolo Ucello at the Chiostro dello Spedale at San Marino
alla Scala, in Florence.
"figures exemplaires"» in the 1505 edition of the De
artificiali perspectiva, Pélerin, in order to demonstrate
the application of the "perspective diffuse" or "perspectiva cornuta", that is to say, composition with two "points principaux", chose a representation of the Cour de Justice
taken from the Lit de Justice de Vendôme en 1458, a miniature
of the manuscript known as the Munich Boccaccio (BSB, Cod. gall. 6 ) inspired by Fouquet. One can thus deduce that
Viator did not invent the method, but was satisfied to transmit it.
The critical question remaining in the present state of knowledge is
that of the contacts and exchanges between the two geographic and cultural
poles. Fouquet could very well have been one of the arbitrators between
the two worlds, but no doubt he was not the only one.
the De artificiali perspectiva cannot be reduced to the method
of two "points principaux" alone. Several themes and forms
of perspective are to be found there. One can observe it for example
in the third "figure exemplaire", which shows a landscape:
the plan for the perspective used here is very close to that used by
Leonardo in a study for the Adoration des Mages (c. 1481) (Florence, Gabinetto
Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi). In both cases, linear perspective is
applied to an open space, with very little architecture or without it.
Transversal lines parallel to the horizon line are more numerous than
those that would be obtained from intersections between the diagonal
(represented in the two images) and the lines joining the line of sight
to the divisions of the horizon line. (Viator represents the divisions,
but not the lines). The resemblance between the two perspective schemes
can not easily be attributed to chance.
between these two examples leads one to think that Viator’s treatise
can no longer be considered "l’héritier d’une
tradition locale" (Brion-Guerry 1962, p. 112), but rather the
"compendium" or "abrégé",
terms used in the first page of the text, of knowledge spread during
the Quattrocento in a cultural network allowing information to circulate
between Italy and France. It will be necessary to reconstitute the connections,
probably starting from Fouquet or Leonardo; Liliane Brion-Guerry has
already made note of the links with Viator’s treatise.
Pietro Roccasecca (Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome) –
J. Pélerin, De Artificiali Perspectiva (1505,
1509), New York, Da Capo Press, 1973.
L. Brion-Guerry, Jean Pélerin Viator. Sa place dans l’histoire
de la perspective, Paris, les Belles Lettres, 1962.
P. Roccasecca, "La finestra albertiana", F. Camerota & C. Acidini Luchinat (ed.), Nel segno
di Masaccio. L’invenzione della prospettiva, Florence, Giunti,
2001, pp. 65 –67.
P. Roccasecca, "Il foglio RF 430 del Louvre: una prospettiva
per due punti di distanza e la presenza a Roma di Jean Fouquet",
Ricerche di Storia dell’arte, 87, 2005, pp. 13- 20.