History is a cultural robbery. After 500 years of keeping the package tightly wrapped, history started leaking inconvenient truths.
Discovery of perspective is still attached to Italian Renaissance and it continues to promote the false idea of the Western civilization as a source of progress, innovation and knowledge. In fact, the story of perspective is the best indicator of Western cultural ideology. Claiming that progress starts with the Renaissance is more than an arrogant ideology, as it fabricates truth by claiming innovators (such as Leonardo, Copernicus, Galileo, etc.), glorifies conquests and atrocities as “discoveries” and steals & protects “primitive” artifacts form other cultures in museums.
Since eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, city of Pompeii remained covered with ashes for more than 1500 years. Excavation of Pompeii brought to light almost intact frescoes, which depicted curious life of Roman’s elite. Alongside with exotic and mythological themes, local painters were well versed in perspective, which they used in many forms: linear, multi directional, atmospheric, imaginary and physical.
These paintings use mathematics and geometry to depict the space, maintaing high control over tone and contrast, colour and atmosphere. Some depict fantasy landscapes, inhabited with mythological creatures and architectural fragments, uncanny similar to current computer-generated VR environments. It is possible to say that essential aesthetic standards remained intact together with the frescoes. These paintings provide evidence that perspective existed 1500 years before Renaissance.
“The Chinese have never had any scientific interest in perspective or its rules.”
– The Oxford Companion of art (Osborne, 1970)
A section form the scroll painting “River Scene” by Zhang Ze-Duan (Song Dynasty 960-1279) presents an example of complex linear perspective 500 years before the Renaissance.
This painting proves the Oxford Companion of Art as incorrect in stating that Chinese masters didn’t employ perspective rules. In fact, Chinese (as many other cultures) rejected perspective as distorting and displeasing to the eye. The famous artist of the Jin Dynasty Gu Kaizhi (c. 345-406) stated that painting is art of “making the form show the spirit”, in other words, a painting should depict the space between likeness and unlikeness.
Ideology of space
We all know historic events are doctrines, not historic truth. Nevertheless, perspective doesn’t employ only geometric rules, but it generates the entire paradigm which places man into the centre of the universe. Since then, nothing has remained the same.