As the science of photography developed, so artists’ work became less realistic and more impressionistic, there being no need to produce a realistic facsimile of a scene when a photograph could achieve this in an instant. Architectural draftsmen, however, were required to produce something that looked realistic when in fact it was pure fantasy. Of course, they were more idealistic than realistic: the factory painted in the manner of a country house, with elegant figures and cars before it – who would never again visit once the opening ceremony was over; the City office block painted from a perspective inside an adjacent building whence it would never be seen; the design for the building that never made it beyond the drawing board; and of course the design for the building that has now been demolished, and the only memory of it is in the lovingly-drawn architectural perspective.
Often the lovingly-drawn perspective flattered the building rather more than it deserved, putting it into a romantic light, viewing it from the best possible, but in-reality impossible, angle. Many a town planner has been bamboozled by the beautifully painted images created by a good perspectivist and thus encouraged to approve an otherwise-unsuitable building.
Here we are proud to present some drawings by the greatest twentieth century architectural perspectivists, including Cyril Farey and JDM Harvey.