Abstract

We apply optical and perspective tests to the carpet in Lorenzo Lotto’s “Husband and Wife” (c. 1543) to test the claim that this painting was executed by tracing an optically projected image. While the perspective exhibits many inaccuracies consistent with this claim, such inaccuracies are equally consistent with non-optical explanations, such as artistic freehand for features that are peripheral to the theme of the painting. Further, a number of properties–specifically the perspective inconsistencies within some putative projection regions–are incompatible with the use of projections. We explore perspective in carpets in other Lotto paintings and find perspective incoherence that is unlikely due to refocusing or depth of field problems in a projection, the putative source in “Husband and wife.” Our analyses and the lack of supporting historical evidence lead us to reject claims for “proofs” that projections were used in the creation of this painting.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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