Magazine article Curriculum Review

Perspectives on Leonardo's Window

Magazine article Curriculum Review

Perspectives on Leonardo's Window

Article excerpt

In its wonderful Web-based unit on the life and times of Leonardo da Vinci, Boston's Museum of Science offers a fun classroom art activity--with some math and history thrown in for good measure--in which students use a glass window as a canvas, just like Leonardo and many Renaissance artists did.

Explain to students that this is an exercise in linear perspective, a mathematical system for creating the illusion of space and distance on a flat surface. The system originated in Florence, Italy in the early 1400s. The artist and architect Brunelleschi demonstrated its principles, but another architect and writer, Leon Battista Alberti, was first to write down rules of linear perspective for artists to follow. Leonardo da Vinci probably learned Alberti's system while serving as an apprentice to the artist Verrocchio in Florence. For more lowdown on linear perspective, go to http://www.mos.org/sln/ Leonardo/ ExploringLinearPerspective.html.

Students will use a glass window as a canvas. Looking through one eye, they can trace the outlines of objects seen through the window to create a drawing with natural and correct perspective.

Materials: Windows with views, sheets of acetate, masking tape, straight-backed chairs, eye patches or bandannas, white board or overhead markers, straight edges, white paper.

If your school has lots of large windows with views, and a large number of portable chairs, all of your students may be able to do this activity at one time. More likely you will want to explain the procedure and then have a few students try it at a time. …

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