Reflections on the Hockney-Falco Thesis: Optical Theory and Artistic Practice in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

In: Early Science and Medicine


One problem facing Hockney and Falco is the lack of evidence among optical sources to support their claim that artists used image-projection by the early 1400s. After all, if quattrocento artists knew about image-projection, they must have learned about it from experts in the field, and no one was more expert at the time than Perspectivist opticians. As I argue in this paper, however, Perspectivist reflection-analysis posed certain theoretical and conceptual constraints that would have prevented Perspectivist opticians from recognizing, much less understanding, image-projection. Their silence on this matter is therefore not evidence against the Hockney-Falco thesis.

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