Case Study: "The Flagellation of Christ" by Piero della Francesca


Fig. 23 – “The Flagellation of Christ” by Piero della Francesca.

“The Flagellation of Christ” by Piero della Francesca is one of the most striking examples of a painting done in the correct perspective.  Using the distance point method, the viewing distance AO, as shown in Fig. 24, is measured to be about 1.1 times the height of the picture. 

Fig. 24 – Determination of the viewing distance using the distance point method.

Incidentally, the “Flagellation” is also one of the few paintings where one can determine the viewing distance easily.  In most other paintings, the architecture which extends over most of the painting is drawn in perspective as a whole, from one main centre of projection.  However, the human figures and other objects are drawn with their own centres of projection. 

For example, in his “School of Athens”, Raphael (1483 – 1520) depicted two spheres at the right side of his painting (Fig. 25) and drew their outlines as circles, not ellipses.  This is an instance of the modifications made to the strict theory of central projection.  In addition, the individual human figures in Fig. 25 have their own centres of projection.


Fig. 25 – “The School of Athens” by Raphael.