Secret Knowledge

National Curriculum Science Area: History, Science, Maths and Art & Design

Key Stages: Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 (post-16)

Length of session: 1–2 hours

Maximum group size: 25–50 students

This session explores the link between the science of optics and the invention of linear perspective during the Renaissance.

Students hear the story of the development of a mathematical understanding of linear perspective in early 15th-century Florence illustrated by optical demonstrations.

In the second part of the workshop, students are introduced to optical devices that artists have used in the past to help them achieve perspective, and experiment with the use of camera obscuras for the purpose of drawing. They will have the opportunity to develop their knowledge of lenses and the nature of light.

This session links with one looking at perspective in paintings at the Ashmolean.