Three- dimensional Perspective
Three-dimensional perspective is the physical foreshortening of an object to give the illusion of greater size or distance. When, for example, an element of scenery is foreshortened it is actually built and painted in perspective to create the illusion of greater space than the volume of the stage. For many centuries the graphics of three-dimensional perspective has fascinated artists in the theatre more as a means of achieving a spectacular illusion than as a dramatic tool.
A brief review of the origin of perspective soon reveals that the theatre was the cradle, experimental laboratory, showcase, and last resting place of many flamboyant uses of perspective. It is safe to assume, without too much fear of contradiction, that the earliest uses of three-dimensional perspective in an organized manner first appeared in the theatre.
We know, for example, that the study of the science of perspective began in Renaissance times and that many Renaissance artists and architects also designed for the theatre. We also know that these same artists were attracted to the writings of Vitruvius, the ancient Roman who, rather freely, interpreted the form and substance of Greek classical art, architecture, and theatre. Perspective and scenery painting appear as virtually synonymous terms in Vitruvius' use of the word "scenographia" to describe the already lost formula of perspective in Greek times.
Such familiar Italian names as Alberti, Peruzzi, Serlio, and Vignola and, later, Palladio, Scamozzi, Pozzi, Juvarra, and the Bibienas are associated with the development and use of perspective in the theatre as well as being leaders in the art and architecture of the Renaissance and baroque periods.
In the middle of the sixteenth century one of the first theatrical applications of perspective appears in Sabastiano Serlio's formalized stage settings and amphitheatres. Serlio, like many other Renaissance artists, experimented with perspective in an attempt to bring greater reality to a flat surface. They all strove to break through the two-dimensional canvas to create the illusion of a more lifelike three- dimensional world. Though Serlio's experiments are about a century after Leone Battista Alberti's first treatise on perspective in 1435, he followed the direction of his contemporary teacher, Baldassarre Pe