Vision Problems: The World Through Blunted Sight by Patrick Trevor

An excerpt from the book The World Through Blunted Sight by Patrick Trevor, a look at the psychological effects that vision problems have on people especially in art.

THE WORLD THROUGH BLUNTED SIGHT. By Patrick Trevor-Roper. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1970.

About the book: That visual abnormalities have affected the work of many of the most renowned artists is not a new concept. Nor is it surprising to hear it said that this or that artist was depressed, in love, or heartbroken, when he painted a particular picture. But seldom does one hear about the effect which visual problems--myopia, hypermetropia, color-blindness, etc.--can have upon the psychological makeup of the individual.

This book uses the subjective world of the artist to illustrate this theme.

From the book: The classical instance of an artist whose characteristic style has been attributed to an astigmatic eye is El Greco, for in nearly all his paintings there is a vertical elongation, but on a slightly oblique axis, so that all his characters seem to be in danger of sliding off the bottom righthand corner of the picture. It is interesting to discover how constant, both in degree and meridian, these distortions are when we neutralize them by photographing his paintings through an I-OD astigmatic lens along an opposite meridian (15deg off the horizontal). If one looks at the portrait of the Cardinal Inquisitor Nino de Guevara (which has an incidental ophthalmological interest, in that the cardinal is wearing a pair of archetypal spectacles, fastened with a cord behind the ears in the Chinese fashion), and then at the neutralized rendering of the same painting, one can see that the latter has indeed restored more normal proportions and removed the rather disquieting mal-equilibrium of the cardinal, who had seemed to be slipping off his chair.

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