Grundbilledets geometri. Perspektiv- og sandhedskonstruktion i tre af Eckersbergs romerske tegninger

  • Signe Havsteen

Resumé

The Geometry of the True Image. Construction of Perspective and Truth in Three of Eckersberg’s Roman Drawings

Danish painter C.W. Eckersberg published two perspective treatises 1833 and 1841. The 1833 treatise in particular contains important theoretical reflections on the use of perspective in painting. A central concept in Eckersberg’s perspective theory is the concept of grundbilledet – the fundamental image, or “the true image”. Earlier interpretations of this concept have focused either on Eckersberg’s interest in the natural sciences or the coinciding contemporary translation of Plato’s concept of “the idea”. Eckersberg’s Roman prospects, painted during his stay in Rome from 1813-1816, are often mentioned in passing in relation to his perspective theory, which wasn’t conceptualised until 20 years later. But – as has already been pointed out by others – the foundation of the later theory of perspective was probably laid during his years in Rome and his previous stay in Paris from 1810-1813. I suggest that this particular group of images and their insistence on architectonic and geometric shapes can help us shed light on Eckersberg’s later theory. In Eckersberg’s paintings, the application of perspective construction goes hand in hand with a detailed observation of nature; the perspective construction ultimately aims at correcting the sensual perception. So do we find the key to an understanding of Eckersberg’s idea of the true image in the abstract, geometric forms that he cultivates in these architectural studies? I investigate this question by comparing three of Eckersberg’s Roman drawings with his perspective theory and contemporary French theories on perspective and architecture. 

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