Atmospheric perspective, was first used in the Renaissance. It is a technique in which the illusion of depth is achieved through the appearance of a hazy, less focused background. Objects seem more distant when they are less detailed, have less intense color, and their texture is less defined.

Observe the painting Dover Plain, Dutchess County, New York by Asher Brown Durand. Notice how the mountain range becomes less defined and less colorful as it recedes into the distance.
Atmospheric perspective, was first used in the Renaissance. It is a technique in which the illusion of depth is achieved through the appearance of a hazy, less focused background. Objects seem more distant when they are less detailed, have less intense color, and their texture is less defined.

Observe the painting Dover Plain, Dutchess County, New York by Asher Brown Durand. Notice how the mountain range becomes less defined and less colorful as it recedes into the distance.

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Dover Plain, Dutchess County, New York

In this gently lit, pastoral landscape, cows graze near a party of berry-pickers who have climbed a cluster of boulders. The panoramic view reveals distant fields, cultivated and bounded by rows of trees and forested areas. The standing figure, surveying the calm and peaceful vista, represents the optimistic future for the citizenry at mid-century.

Asher B. Durand (1796 - 1886)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Thomas M. Evans and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program
1848
UNITED STATES
oil on canvas
© Smithsonian American Art Museum


Atmospheric Perspective

Atmospheric perspective is a technique that was first used by Renaissance artists. To create the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface, they used a technique called chiaroscuro. The illusion of depth is archived by adjusting the haziness and colour intensity of the foreground, middleground and background.

Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores; Department of Canadian Heritage; U.S. Department of State
The Winnipeg Art Gallery; Canadian Museum of Civilization, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes Instito Nacional de Bellas Artes, Smithsonian American Art Museum

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved


1. Do intensely coloured, bright objects appear to be closer or farther away on a work of art?
2. Which settings make the background appear farthest away? Explain why using the terms "colour intensity" and "levels".
3. Which settings make the background appear closest? Explain why using the terms "colour intensity" and "levels".
1. Do intensely coloured, bright objects appear to be closer or farther away on a work of art?
2. Which settings make the background appear farthest away? Explain why using the terms "colour intensity" and "levels".
3. Which settings make the background appear closest? Explain why using the terms "colour intensity" and "levels".

© CHIN 2001. All Rights Reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Understand the principle of atmospheric perspective and how it is used in art

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