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Disappear Here

From the Renaissance to the present day, perspective has been a constant in architectural writing and illustration, linking the disciplines of art, architecture and mathematics.

Perspective drawing has been applied to the art of building for centuries and used as a tool to evoke illusory architectural spaces: a way of seeing which became a way of building. By translating three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional surface, it has become the ultimate quest to depict realistic impressions of a complex world.

Sam Jacob Studio was invited by the RIBA to draw on the RIBA Collections for the exhibition Disappear Here. This gallery presents a range of images used as research material and inspiration for Disappear Here, as well as in the exhibition itself.

Highlights include John Smythson’s early 17th century Jacobean designs for Bolsover Castle; Hans Vredeman de Vries’ imaginary series of vistas and interiors from Perspective (1604); Étienne-Louis Boullée’s visionary design for a neo-classical cathedral and one of the many colourful perspectives from the office of R. Seifert & Partners.

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Rotunda, Leicester Square, London: section

RIBA16151
Mitchell, Robert (fl. 1770-1809)
SOURCE: Robert Mitchell. Plans, and views in perspective, with descriptions, of buildings erected in England and Scotland (London, 1801), pl. 14

Illustration explaining how to draw the perspective of a round table and chairs

RIBA18827
NOTES: William Halfpenny. Perspective made easy (London, 1754), pl. 13

Examples of perspective delineation

RIBA18974
SOURCE: James Malton. The young painter's maulstick (London, 1800), pl. XII

Illustration explaining how to draw the perspective of an L-shaped building with a tower

RIBA18975
SOURCE: James Malton. The young painter's maulstick (London, 1800), pl. 16

Pyramid of Caius Cestius, Porta San Paolo, Rome: sectional perspective

RIBA19702
SOURCE: Pietro Santi Bartoli. Gli Antichi sepolcri, ovvero mausolei romani, ed etruschi trovati in Roma, ed in altri luoghi celebri (Rome, 1768), pl. 62

Two perspective views of roads passing through a rural landscape and approaching a village featuring weight and speed restriction symbols painted on the road surfaces

RIBA20611
Cullen, Gordon (1914-1994)
NOTES: The roads are shown passing through a rural landscape and approaching a village.

Designs for Bolsover Castle, Bolsover, Derbyshire: plan and frontal perspective view of the fountain in the garden featuring manneken-pis sculptures and a central pedestal incorporating lion's head masks

RIBA29189
Smythson, John (d. 1634)
NOTES: This design is not exactly as carried out. The existing fountain, called the Venus Fountain, must date between 1618, when Sir William Cavendish became the first Earl of Devonshire, and his death in 1626 as the fountain bears the Earl's arms.

Willington A Power Station, Derbyshire: perspective view

RIBA29351
Farmer & Dark
NOTES: Two coal-fired power stations, Willington A and B, were built on this site by the River Trent during the 1950s. Station A closed in 1995 and B in 1999 when everything except the cooling towers was demolished.

Design for the interior decoration of the RMS Queen Elizabeth for Cunard White Star: isometric projection indicating a decorative flooring scheme for a deck entrance

RIBA31226
Wornum, George Grey (1888-1957)
NOTES: Launched in 1938, the RMS Queen Elizabeth was quickly requisitioned for use in World War II as a troop ship. It was only after the war, in 1946, that it was completely refitted and relaunched as the luxury passenger liner it was originally intended to be. George Grey Wornum designed the decoration of the first-class accommodation.

Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich: axonometric sketch demonstrating the heart of the scheme's integration of school and gallery spaces under one roof

RIBA31645
Foster Associates
NOTES: This drawing was made for an exhibition demonstrating the innovatory features of the building.

Design for Wilton House, Wilton: perspective view of the house and grounds

RIBA35035
De Caus, Isaac (d. 1656?)
SOURCE: Colen Campbell. Vitruvius Britannicus (London, 1725), Vol. III, p. 57-60

Design for a ceiling with columns and coffered arches

RIBA35684
NOTES: This design is probably by an unidentified Italian from the Bolognese School and is an exercise in trompe l'oeil.

Section of an entablature drawn with perspective lines to an infinity point

RIBA35770
NOTES: This drawing is by an unidentified 18th century English architect.

Foundling housing scheme (Brunswick Centre), Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury, London: cross-section of a residential flat

RIBA35955
Hodgkinson, Patrick (1930-2016)
NOTES: This design incorporates pasted photographic images.

Design for the Brunswick Close Estate, Finsbury, London: perspective view of a housing tower block

RIBA36056
Emberton, Franck & Tardrew
NOTES: The Brunswick Close project was approved in 1956 and consisted of three 12-storey towers (Brunswick, Emberton and Wycliff Courts).

Perspective illustration with accompanying text showing a small room or chamber

RIBA36287
Vitruvius (c. 84 BC-c. 14 BC)
SOURCE: Fra Giovanni Giocondo. M. Vitruvio, De Architectura libri decem additis (Venice, 1511), Book 5, p. 47 NOTES: Vitruvius's original treatise 'De architectura' was written during the first century BC. This 1511 edition was edited and augmented by Fra Giovanni Giocondo and was the first illustrated version of the treatise.

Demonstration of Albrecht Durer's Perspective Machine (Lens Perspectiva)

RIBA38296
Durer, Albrecht (1471-1528)
SOURCE: Daniele Barbaro. La pratica della perspettiva di Monsignor Daniel Barbaro (Venice, 1559), p. 191 NOTES: This image is after a woodcut by Albrecht Durer entitled 'Man drawing a lute', from his 1525 treatise on perspective.

Perspective diagram depicting houses and an archway

RIBA38320
SOURCE: Sebastiano Serlio. Il Secondo libro di perspettiva (Di Architettura, book II) (Venice, 1551), fo. 19 recto NOTES: This 1551 publication formed the first collected edition of all five of Serlio's books on architecture, which had previously appeared as first editions between 1537 and 1547.

Perspective diagram illustrating two flights of steps

RIBA38321
SOURCE: Sebastiano Serlio. Il Secondo libro di perspettiva (Di Architettura, book II) (Venice, 1551), fo. 19 verso NOTES: This 1551 publication formed the first collected edition of all five of Serlio's books on architecture, which had previously appeared as first editions between 1537 and 1547.

Design for the library, Gray's Inn, High Holborn, London, for the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn: perspective view of the reading room

RIBA41602
Maufe, Sir Edward Brantwood (1883-1974)
NOTES: Sir Edward Maufe was responsible for restoring and redesigning Gray's Inn following damage sustained duing World War II.

Perspective of peristyle temple with rusticated podium

RIBA67327
Vitruvius (c. 84 BC-c. 14 BC)
NOTES: This drawing was possibly prepared for Newton's publication 'The Architecture of M. Vitruvius Pollio', (London, 1771; 2nd edition, 1791), in which Vitruvian principles were applied to conjectural reconstructions of Classical buildings and later constructions.

John Lewis Department Store, Kingston-upon-Thames, London: axonometric from Kingston Bridge and floor plans

RIBA69409
Ahrends Burton & Koralek
NOTES: This image is a photograph of an original drawing.

The Belfry system for the production of standard industrialised houses: perspective showing the door and window units

RIBA81938
Fry Drew & Partners
NOTES: This is a slide of a drawing. Flats using this method of construction were built in Castle Road, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire by Fry, Drew & Partners in 1965.

View of the Market Cross (or High Cross), Bristol: perspective drawn showing vanishing points

RIBA84040
NOTES: This drawing comes from a topographical sketchbook by Nicholas Hawksmoor dated between 1680 and 1683. The High Cross was erected in 1373 and dismantled and put into storage in 1733. In 1765 it was given to Henry Hoare to re-erect in his landscape gardens at Stourhead.

Design for an eight-sided fortress for an ideal city: half-plan and section

RIBA85658
Scamozzi, Vincenzo (1548-1616)
SOURCE: Vincenzo Scamozzi. L'Idea della architettura universale' (Venice, 1615), part 1, book 2, ch. XXVI, between p. 193 & 194 [plate 3] NOTES: In the 1590s Scamozzi had been involved in the design of the ideal fortified town of Palmanova in north-east Italy and his experience of that design was reflected in book 2 of part 1 which was devoted to military architecture.

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, City of London: perspective section

RIBA92181
Chamberlin Powell & Bon
NOTES: This is a photograph of a drawing. The Barbican Centre is located in the heart of the Barbican complex and comprises: a concert hall, two theatres, an art gallery, three cinemas, 2 exhibition halls, conference suites, the conservatory, and various restaurants and refreshment facilities. The Guildhall School of Music and the Barbican Library lie adjacent and are accessible from the centre.

Barbican Estate, City of London: perspective showing some of the garden layout including the pyramidal conservatory and ornamental water gardens

RIBA94418
Chamberlin Powell & Bon
NOTES: This complex of arts buildings and housing covers seven acres in the City of London. Built between 1971 and 1982, it regenerated an area which had been badly bombed during World War II. The estate has three residential towers: Cromwell Tower, completed in 1973; Shakespeare Tower, completed in 1976, and Lauderdale Tower, completed in 1974. The complex was Grade II listed in 2001. See also RIBA94809 for a Nora Glover perspective of the pyramidal conservatory.

Interior with an artist drawing a landscape through a window, to show the principles of copying by 'squaring up'

RIBA99425
SOURCE: Johann II, Prince of Pfalz Simmern. Eyn schon nutzlich Buechlin und Underweisung der Kunst des Messen (Simmern, 1531), p. H2b

Methods for drawing perspectives

RIBA99426
SOURCE: Abraham Bosse. Maniere universelle de Mr Desargues, pour pratiquer la perspective par petit-pied, comme le geometral (Paris, 1647), pl. 2

Illustration explaining how to draw the perspective of a house and garden

RIBA99428
SOURCE: William Halfpenny. Perspective made easy (London, 1754), pl. 20

Hans Vredeman de Vries, Perspective, part I: plate 11 (interior view with sight lines and vanishing points marked)

RIBA99429
SOURCE: Hans Vredeman de Vries. Perspective (Leiden, 1604), part I, pl. 11

Hans Vredeman de Vries, Perspective, part I: plate 28 (complex quadratura constructions incorporating human figures)

RIBA99467
SOURCE: Hans Vredeman de Vries. Perspective (Leiden, 1604), part I, pl.28

Hans Vredeman de Vries, Perspective, part I: plate 36 (spiral staircase with sight lines and vanishing points marked)

RIBA99475
SOURCE: Hans Vredeman de Vries. Perspective (Leiden, 1604), part I, pl. 36

Design for a stage set and proscenium arch for a performance of the opera 'La Clemenza di Tito', Act 1 Scene 1, Lisbon Opera House (Opera do Tejo or Phoenix Opera): perspective view of an atrium with a palace seen beyond

RIBA35668
Galli Bibiena, Giovanni Carlo (1713?-1760)
NOTES: This drawing is by or after Giovanni Carlo Galli Bibiena and is one of eight designs for scenes for the opera 'La Clemenza di Tito' (libretto by Metastasio, music by Antonio Mazzoni) which was performed in the new opera house at Lisbon in 1755 on the birthday of Joseph I, King of Portugal. In 1752 Galli Bibiena had been summoned to Lisbon by the king to design the opera house, which adjoined the royal palace. Just seven months after its completion however, the theatre was destroyed by the devastating Lisbon earthquake of 1755. The drawing shown here relates to a set of engravings and may have been copied from the prints themselves.

Designs for an 1/8 inch perspective grid: plan

RIBA97145
Ventris, Michael George Francis (1922-1956)

Designs for an 1/8 inch perspective grid: plan

RIBA97146
Ventris, Michael George Francis (1922-1956)
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