Teachers Lesson Plans

An Introduction to Pictorial Space

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Jacob Jordaens, As the Old Sing, So the Young Pipe, circa 1640-1645 and Emanuel de Witte, A Sermon in the Old Church in Delft, circa 1650-1651

These two paintings successfully show the interest of Netherlander artists in perspective artifices and trompe-l'œil.

Jacob Jordaens' painting technique is truly amazing (e.g. food and containers on the feast table). Like distorting mirrors, the metal cups reflect the delicious dishes. This lighting effect even gives volume to the transparent glasses. Light and shadows combine to produce a very realistic view of objects. As if we are part of the painting!

In a very different way, Emanuel de Witte mocks our perception of reality. The curtain seems to belong to the church, and yet the rod casts a shadow on the upper part of the scene, thus revealing unequivocally that we are staring at a painting that we could protect with a curtain - if it was real, of course!