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What to see


The neighboring picture by Hans Holbein is called “The Ambassadors” (1533, from Wikimedia Commons). Every thing is painted very realistic, in trompe-l’œil style. But what is the strange shape in the bottom foreground?


What to do


You could try a slanting look on the image from top right. Easier: further down I have cut out this shape; with the slider at the right you can change its angle, with the slider at the bottom its horizontal scale. This allows you to make the shape recognisable. Two tips: (1) set both sliders to rather low values, (2) memento mori.




The shape is rendered with a strong perspective distortion, an example of an anamorphotic display. Now in the National Gallery in London, the painting originally hung at the bottom of a staircase, so when descending the angle was just so.


Anamorphotic images can also involve mirroring on curved surfaces, cylinders or cones.




Wikipedia entry “The Ambassadors”

Wikipedia entry Anamorphosis



Created: 2010-04-15

Last update: 2013-10-04