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What is it?

Foreshortening is a technique used in drawing and painting to give the illusion of 3-dimensional space. It is an important tool for representing figures or objects convincingly within a spatial framework.

When was it used?

The ability to create spatial illusion was a major technical innovation of the Renaissance. Starting in the 1430's, Alberti's explanations of perspective techniques opened to painters the means of depicting their subjects in a life-like manner.

Bill Murphy triptych
Foreshortening used in painting triptych
"My Search for the Truth"
by contemporary painter and printmaker
Bill Murphy

Why is foreshortening important?

Having acquired the technical skill to create space on an apparently flat surface, painters have spent much of the subsequent 500 years deciding whether or not, or how deeply, to violate the picture plane. From Michelangelo's dangling feet in the 16th century to Kenneth Noland's vibrating stripes in the 20th, to use--or not to use--the illusion of depth has continued to torture painters' imaginations.


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Glance regularly at PEDIGREE & PROVENANCE, and soon you'll be able to toss those obscure phrases back at the experts with confidence and agility and be fully prepared to bid on items at BIDDINGTON'S upmarket, online art & antiques auctions.

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