The New International Encyclopædia/Foreshortening

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Edition of 1906.  See also Perspective on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

FORESHORTENING. That view of a figure or portion of a figure which, obeying the laws of perspective, diminishes in actual extent according to the angle at which it is seen. For example, a figure looked at from below becomes condensed, as it were, in length, and in portraying such an abrupt view there would be less space demanded than if the figure stood upright on the same level as the observer. In the same sense an arm extended and pointing directly out of the picture would require less actual space on the canvas than an arm laterally extended. The representation, then, of this effect of reduced space suggesting at the same time the actual length of the object, is termed foreshortening. It is practiced more or less by all painters as occasion demands, and it is always called for in the painted ceiling where figures are represented as above one's head. Some of the chief masters of foreshortening among the Italians were Melozzo da Forli, Luca Signevelli, Michelangelo, Tintoretto, and, especially, Correggio, who, in his frescoes of the cupola of Parma went further than had any before him. His example was followed by painters of the Baroque and Rococo period, who introduced foreshortening into their works merely for the purpose of parading their technical skill. In modern times greater care prevails, and foreshortening is practiced only with reference to the laws of perspective.