JF Ptak Science Books Post 1583 [Part of the History of Holes series]
Filippo Brunelleschi is most often credited--from Vasari to Kemp--as the modern discoverer of linear perspective (or re-discoverer in the eyes of Samuel Edgerton Renaissance Rediscovery of Perspective, 1975 or John White, The Birth and Rebirth of Pictorial Space, 1987). The Greeks most certainly had mastered some aspects of perspective as is in evidence in their surviving architecture (though not artwork remains exhibiting this), but Brunelleschi for all intents and purposes1 discovered it for the rest of humanity.
Edgerton remarked that the discovery "marked an event which ultimately was to change the modes, if not the course of Western history", with one reason for this magnitude being that technological and architectural ideas could be far more easily intellectually-transmitted as societal property rendered in perspective than had they not been issued so. (I wonder, for example, if this might have been the reason why there was no Chinese technological renaissance during the Renaissance--because the idea of linear perspective was not adopted until relatively late, meaning that transmitting complex technical ideas was far more difficult.)
Brunelleschi employed a brilliant method to capture the depth of his scene--in this famous case, the Baptistery in
Florence. Employing this method helped the architect to understand the mathematical principles of perspective and to become its earliest master.
Perspective is the romance of balance and the mathematics of proportion, at the center of which is the vanishing point, an interestingly-named point of departure and similarity, where parallel lines not parallel to the image plane appear to come together, in an early singularity. So it is this great and famous hole helping to establish a great and famous dot (which I guess could make an appearance of its own in this blog's series on The History of Dots).
Another famous hole that comes a little later (a hundred years or so later) belongs to Albrecht Durer (The Painter's Manual, 1525)
where Durer illustrates the artist at work using a perspective device along with a vielo.
There are other holes in the history of art to be sure, but these are perhaps the most significant ones that appear in the Renaissance--there are others in architecture, for example, but my thinking is that the Brunelleschi hole takes precedence. Other interesting and significant holes begin to appear a little later on, for the development of peep machines, and the camera obscura, and then of course photography, but they will come in a later post.
1. Earlier though not complete efforts were made in Alhazen's Perspectiva, c. 1000 A.D., Roger Bacon's Opus Majus, c. 1260 A.D., John Pecham's Perspectiva communis, c. 1270 A.D.., and Alberti's Della pittura (1435).
Another perspective machine of Durer: