Daniel Barbaro, Italian perspectivist, 16th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The Venetian Daniel Barbaro (1514-1570) advocated the use of the camera obscura as an aid to drawing and perspective. The camera obscura (Latin for 'dark room') consisted of a box or room with a hole in one end. Light enters the hole, and an inverted image is seen on the opposite wall or side. His 'La pratica della perspettiva' (1568) contains one of the earliest descriptions of the use of a biconvex lens in the camera obscura to assist artists in the representation of scenes from nature. It was one of the most influential texts on perspective at that time, separating perspective, used in the design of stage sets, from the graphic representation of buildings. Barbaro also translated Vitruvius' ten books on architecture.