A Closer Look: Pictorial Space Nicholas Penny

A Closer Look
Publication date:
23 May 2017
National Gallery London
96 pages: 210 x 146mm
80 color illus.


For more than six centuries, European painters have been ambitious to depict objects as if they possessed volume, placing them in a space that seems equivalent to the real space of our world. This “fiction” was central to the artist’s purpose. Through a close examination of paintings from the 1400s to the early 20th century, including works by Uccello, Vermeer, Titian, and Monet, Nicholas Penny explains in this latest title in the National Gallery’s Closer Look series how artists sought to make the fiction of pictorial space compelling, not only through the use of linear or aerial perspective, but also through the choice and intensity of color, the variations in light, and the texture of the painted surface. 

Nicholas Penny was the director of the National Gallery, London, from 2008 to 2015. He was previously senior curator of sculpture and decorative arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington.