The combined here to create an illusionistic surface,

The Camera
degli Sposi (1465-1474) by Andrea Mantegna is a prime model of an artwork
that attempts to defeat spatial constrictions through an illusion of depth. The
work is an example of trompe-l’oeil painting, which employs realistic imagery
to create optical illusions of continuing space on an architectural surface. Camera degli Sposi translates to the room of the bride and groom. This would
have been the place where newlyweds would have consummated their marriage
within the Ducal Palace of Mantua, Italy (Web Gallery of Art, 2017, A). It is
likely to have been the first time a couple would have experienced this kind of
privacy. This is significant due to the ideas surrounding privacy and division
in architecture, and the resultant spatial limitations that Schmarsow defends. The
room could easily be described as a ‘sculptural image’ due to the extreme emphasis
on pictorial imagery among the three-dimensional architectural formation. Architecture
and painting have been exquisitely combined here to create an illusionistic
surface, reminiscent of the relationship between the two art forms. This
connection is emphasised through the rib-like curves and sculptural busts
protruding from the flat, marble-like texture that is created by the paint and
tactically applied onto the surface of the ceiling. The wall paintings do not
display as much of the trompe-l’oeil technique compared to that of the ceiling,
reflecting the significance of division, enclosure and privacy that the couple
would have desired. However, the room is only 8.1 metres square, and the wall
painting still allows us to feel as though it is far more spacious (Web Gallery
of Art, 2017, B). A modern analogy of these ideas can be found in the renowned
BBC series Doctor Who. Throughout the
science fiction programme, the Doctor’s TARDIS
(Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) appears from the outside as a small police
telephone box. However, it is far larger on the inside than it looks externally.
In Mantegna’s work, the illusion of the open sky painted in the centre of the
ceiling would have encouraged the couple to imagine the ‘infinity and
immeasurability’ of space. The ideas portrayed in the creation of the TARDIS also explore this through its large
three-dimensional interior and ability to travel through infinite space. However,
the particular imagery of the sky in the Camera
degli Sposi blurs the boundaries between interior and exterior space
through its imagery. It is this artistic illusion of depth that removes the
disadvantage of any spatial limitations or claustrophobia without the privacy
of the room being compromised. The ‘picture of infinity’ (Boullé
in Neumeyer, 1999, p. 245) is
made even more effective through the spherical structure of the ceiling. The
point of division between the walls and ceiling of the room does not exist,
allowing the illusion of the painting to perceptually extend the space further
(Neumeyer, 1999). Schmarsow’s theory has been put into practice here.


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