An Interpretation of De Witt's Drawing on the Methodological Ground of Perspective Restitution


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Among the few pictorial sources for the architecture of Elizabethan theater, the famous De Witt drawing of c.1596 (actually, a copy of it made by Arend van Buchell), showing the interior of the Swan playhouse, is of particular significance not only because it is the only clearly valid illustration of the interior of one of the public theaters of Shakespeare's age, but also because it has become a major issue of controversy among scholars. The latter fact is the consequence of inadequate skill on the part of the author of the sketch (copy): simply speaking, it is characteristically amateur and allows a variety of possible interpretations of the visible elements of the theater. However, it seems that in spite of everything that has been written on the subject, the sketch has not yet been analyzed scientifically. An analysis is needed which would, using the scientific methods of theoretical and artistic perspective restitution,1 explain what exactly are the mistakes of the drawing. Previous commentary on this matter has been less than rigorous. In numerous works pointing out the mistakes and defects of De Witt's drawing, writers have based their analyses on subjective impression, on their intuition only, and without any scruples they have adjusted their descriptions of the sketch to their own theories.

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