Start Free Trial

What influence did the Greek mathematician Euclid have on Brunelleschi?

The Greek mathematician Euclid had a great deal of influence on Brunelleschi. The Italian architect drew upon Euclidean science and optics in using linear perspective. Brunelleschi used linear perspective to create a peephole that allowed him to show the extraordinary depth that could be perceived in architectural works.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Like so many great ideas of Roman and Greek antiquity, Euclidean mathematics lay hidden for centuries until being rediscovered during the Renaissance. Euclidean science, and the mathematics upon which it was based, put man firmly at the center of the universe, entirely in keeping with the spirit of Renaissance humanism.

Before long, it wasn't just mathematicians and scientists who were making use of Euclid's ideas but artists and architects. One such architect was Filippo Brunelleschi, who utilized Euclidean linear perspective to create an elaborate experiment that enabled him to demonstrate the perceived depth that could be achieved by using mathematic perspective. Essentially, Brunelleschi created a painted recreation of the famous Baptistry in Florence in mathematic perspective and placed a small peephole in the painting. Standing in front of the real Baptistry, the viewer would look through the peephole at a mirror that reflected the painting back to them. Because Brunelleschi's use of perspective was so convincing, the viewer might be tricked into thinking they were looking at the real Baptistry and be surprised to find they weren't when the mirror was removed.

Brunelleschi's experiments allowed him to gain a better understanding of mathematical perspective and the ways it could be applied to architecture. Using the principles of Euclidean perspective, Brunelleschi would go on to create great works of architecture of his own.

Brunelleschi also followed Euclid in putting man's perspective at the center of the universe. His experiment in perspective is almost a metaphor for the age in which he lived in that it demonstrated the greater knowledge that could be gained from outside the church, both literally and figuratively.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team