Research Point- Foreshortening

Try lounging on a couch with a mirror facing you from the foot end, then draw your body as you see it in the mirror. Your feet will be huge in comparison with the rest of your body. This effect is called foreshortening. Can you find any images where the artist has used foreshortening to create a particular effect?

IMG_1218

This is just  a very quick sketch.  The legs are a bit mutated- they were in fact reclining in front of me off the edge of a long stool.  Feet are probably disproportionately small!!  I found it really hard to draw and sit because the only mirror I could find was in the bathroom!!

Foreshortening is the visual effect or optical illusion that causes an object or distance to appear shorter than it actually is because it is angled toward the viewer. Additionally, an object is often not scaled evenly: a circle often appears as an ellipse and a square can appear as a trapezoid.

In painting, foreshortening in the depiction of the human figure was perfected in the Italian Renaissance, and The Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna (1480s) is one of the most famous of a number of works that show off the new technique, which thereafter became a standard part of the training of artists.

foreshortening Andrea_Mantegna_-_The_Lamentation_over_the_Dead_Christ_-_WGA13981

Foreshortening refers to the technique of depicting an object or human body in a picture so as to produce an illusion of projection or extension in space.  The artist records, in varying degrees, the distortion that is seen by the eye when an object or figure is viewed at a distance or at an unusual angle – for example a body viewed from either the feet or the top of the head.
A Supine Male Nude, Seen Foreshortened c.1799-1805 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/D04932
A Supine Male Nude, Seen Foreshortened c.1799-1805 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/D04932
Saint Eulalia exhibited 1885 John William Waterhouse 1849-1917 Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01542
Saint Eulalia exhibited 1885 John William Waterhouse 1849-1917 Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01542In this painting of St Eulalia by William Waterhouse– Eulalia’s dramatically foreshortened body leads the eye towards a void at the centre of the picture.

 

More contemporary examples of paintings strongly incorporating foreshortening include the following:
Duarte Vitoria’s “Lush” is an extreme example of foreshortening .  (Portuguese artist born 1973).  The feet are drawn from an ant’s view rendering them really huge in comparison with the rest of the body.
foreshortening Lush
Similarly, Jenny Saville’s “Prop” (1993) Oil on canvas.  Here foreshortening has been used to emphasize scale and mass. combined with the viewing angle, the foreshortening suggests a precarious pose; the full figured model is shown balancing/ propped on the stool with her left thigh l;coming in the foreground.  The head is tiny by comparison.
foreshortening jennysevilleprop7ftx6ft
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