Journal for Geometry and Graphics, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 53-59 (2001)

Light and Shadow in Painting - Concerning the Expression of Shadows in Western Painting -

Kazuko Mende

Dept. of Science of Arts, Joshibi University of Art and Design
1900 Asamizodai Sagamihara-shi, Kanagawa, 228-8538 Japan

Abstract: In realism paintings in Western art, as perspective drawing has developed, so has the artists' ability to create the illusion of space as they see it. One of the important techniques is the skill with which light and shadow are used to create the illusion of a three dimensional space on a two dimensional surface. In this representation of the space, if the light is not depicted on a picture plane, the three dimensionality of the objects will be weak. Then, my question is when the expression of shadow and shade is correctly performed, does it assure recognition of the depicted space? This study will take up Johannes Vermeer, who drew scenes of everyday life realistically, and consider his use of shadow and shade geometrically. I'd like to consider what kind of light and shadow he had in mind. As a conclusion, it can be said that his space was precise in terms of perspective; he depicted shade but not shadow precisely. That made his space lack unity, leaving his picture plane serene as if time had frozen in it. But if we suppose the world he wanted to express was not just a scene of daily life, but a story with a lesson to be learned, then without the precise depiction of shadow and shade, the viewer can tell the story is fiction.

Keywords: shadow and shade, Johannes Vermeer, realism, representation

Full text of the article will be available in end of 2002.

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