Journal for Geometry and Graphics 16 (2012), No. 1, 069--079
Copyright Heldermann Verlag 2012
Parametric Reconstruction of the Space in Vermeer's Painting "Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window"
Institute of Geometry, University of Technology, 01062 Dresden, Germany
This paper presents a new approach to the reconstruction of architectural space depicted in paintings. Instead of a mere graphical or numerical method, it uses a tool for parametric design, to create a direct visual feedback during the reconstruction process. An interactive perspective drawing which overlays a precise digital image of the painting is adjusted by moving data sliders. The sliders at the same time provide the essential measurements of the depicted space. Thus we meet the task to extract dimensions with the greatest accuracy possible although the underlying work of art is characterized by blurred brushstrokes. Like any reconstruction attempt this is based on the assumption that the inspected picture obeys the rules of linear perspective. We at first discuss why this assumption is justified although there are no geometric construction aids detectable as e.g. in later works of Vermeer. The approach has been developed on the occasion of an educational project launched by the Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden. For a special exhibition in 2010 dedicated to the work of a young Vermeer a life-sized room similar to the one shown in the painting "Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window" was constructed.
Keywords: Linear perspective, camera obscura, Johannes Vermeer, Grasshopper, parametric reconstruction, interactive optimisation
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