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Journal for Geometry and Graphics 25 (2021), No. 1, 139--154
Copyright Heldermann Verlag 2021

An Analysis of Vermeer's Perspective in Composition

Noriko Sato
Joshibi University of Art and Design, 1900 Asamizodai, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan

In this study, the relationship between the works of Vermeer, camera obscura light images and frame composition is considered. It has been suggested that Vermeer may have traced camera obscura images to create his paintings. Although it is unlikely that he could have traced the entire image at once, similar to scanning, it is possible that Vermeer may have taken models, motifs, or relative sizes of different objects from these light images and incorporated them directly into his compositions.
One of his works during the early stages of his career is called "Milk Maid". The results of the analysis of two works from the same period, "Woman in Blue" and "Woman with a Water Jug", show that multiple horizon lines can be derived, indicating a geometric inaccuracy. This shows that the works of Vermeer were not geometrically accurate during the start of his career. He created stable compositions with geometric accuracy after a certain point in his career.
The analysis of "Milk Maid" has created doubts regarding the possibility that Vermeer used a camera obscura to trace the surface of the floor. However, because of factors such as the necessity for focus adjustment and limitations of the light image, he may have faced problems in constructing a geometrically accurate space. This report describes the boundary lines drawn on floors, which are essential for creating a space with a sense of depth in paintings.

Keywords: Modeling theory, 17th century Dutch painting, perspective painting.

MSC: 00A66; 51N05

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