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Method of producing a sense of depth in a painting by imitating the effect of atmosphere that makes objects look paler, bluer, and hazier or less distinct in the middle and far distance. The term was coined by Leonardo da Vinci, but the technique can be seen in ancient Greco-Roman wall paintings (e.g., at Pompeii). It was discovered that dust and moisture in the atmosphere caused the scattering of light passing through it; short-wavelength light (blue) is scattered most and long-wavelength light (red) least. Italian painters in Leonardo's time used the device; it was exploited by 15th-century northern European artists and later by J.M.W. Turner.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on aerial perspective, visit Britannica.com.