Oddities of pictures
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). As experts in the field of painting admit, the famous Italian Renaissance artist perfectly mastered the techniques of building a linear perspective. In fact, the sketch of the background is verified with mathematical precision — the glance glides along straight lines rushing to the central vanishing point * and is fixed on it. But look at the columns at the left edge of the picture. Don’t you notice anything strange? The columns are depicted in violation of the very perspective, which is so admired in the drawing of Leonardo. The column, which rests on the step, is depicted on two planes at once: the front (at the base) and the rear (at the level of the capital). And the second column is clearly out of place.
The true reason for the “mistake” made by the artist will remain a mystery to us. At that time, the already established master, Leonardo, hardly allowed a miscalculation out of ignorance, all the more so because there was a “distracting maneuver” – the viewer’s view, willy-nilly, focuses on the center of the picture.
Another thing – the work of a novice artist, yesterday’s student. Take a look at the “Annunciation”, the earliest known painting by Leonardo da Vinci. She made several mistakes. The most obvious – the hand of the Virgin Mary can not get a book lying on the lectern: it is closer to the viewer than to the Virgin. As a result, her right hand is longer than the left, the proportions of the figure are broken.
An impossible figure, or a geometrically contradictory image, similar to the columns on Leonardo’s sketch, is a design based on the famous lithograph Belvedere by the Dutch graphic artist Maurits Escher (1898-1972). In this picture, written almost 500 years after “The Adoration of the Magi”, one can judge about the direction of imp art (from the English impossible — impossible and art) in the so-called optical art — op art, which is represented by its author. Variations on the same theme are found in the works of other contemporary artists who create paradoxical objects that seem real, but cannot exist in reality. Depicting various objects, the authors deliberately violate the laws of geometry and thereby achieve unexpected visual effects — they create astounding optical illusions. Here is just one example – “Still Life in the Window” by the Belgian artist and designer Jos de May (1928-2007). In the picture, the upper and lower halves of the “window frame”, if viewed separately, look like normal, but joined together form an impossible object. The fact is that they are shown from different points, in different perspectives, and this leads to the wrong location of one part relative to another.
And here is the “Portrait of a noble Genoese lady and her son” by the famous Flemish portrait painter Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641). Heroes of the picture make a completely different impression. Because of the strong imbalance, the woman looks unreal. She has a huge growth for a person, a disproportionately small head and, judging by the position of her arms and legs, her body problems. It seems that the portrait of the lady is assembled in parts, and they are badly fitted one to another. In the figure of the boy nothing of the kind is observed, it is perceived quite naturally.
The most frequent mistakes in paintings are a violation of perspective and proportions. But the eye notices other inaccuracies. For example, in the painting “Dinner at Emmaus,” supposedly written by Italian Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430-1516), the scene of the meal looks very realistic. Carefully traced poses, faces and robes of people, interior details, food and dishes. But the legs of the table is clearly not in place. Through their ends, both the upper ones – from the tabletop side and the lower ones – resting against the floor, you can mentally draw straight lines that will be parallel to one another. This means that all the legs are located in the same plane. Such a table is extremely unstable, it will fall at the first attempt to put it on the floor. It would be necessary to unfold a pair of legs (one is enough, and it is better to both at once – from considerations of symmetry of the structure) in space, say 90 °, so that they are located in parallel planes.
It is curious that this mistake is also found on the canvases of other painters, for example, in the painting “The Prophet” by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978), one of the forerunners of the surrealists. Although it all depends on our agreement. If we consider that the easel is falling, then the artist was not mistaken, and if we decide that the easel is firmly on the floor, then this is the same fiction of the author, like the whole image.
An example of a “mistake” of a different kind, testifying to the original author’s intention, is the famous picture-riddle “Portrait of Edward James” by the Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte (1898-1967). The canvas has another name – “Reproduction is prohibited”. The hero of the picture – a well-known English collector and patron of the arts, a friend and patron of Magritte – looks at himself in the mirror, but, contrary to the law of reflection.