„La Perspective, avec la raison des ombres et miroirs“ was published in 1612 in London by Salomon de Caus, a french protestant engineer and architect who had to flee to England because of his believes. The french title translates to something like „The Perspective, with the sense for shadows and mirrors“.
The book is a manual about how perspective can can be constructed by drawing. It is manly directed towards architects, engineers and painters, but the author mentions in the introduction that it is for anyone who’s interested in this topic. It opens with a dedication to Prince Henry of Wales, of whom Salomon de Caus was a guest and garden planer at the time. Interestingly the prince died in the very year the book was published. Then follows a note of the French King Louis XIII and his council to Prince Henry praising the abilities of Salomon de Caus and the value of this book for the public, which is interesting considering the fact that the author had to flee from France. After the index and the introduction to the reader, the first book about perspective starts.
The first chapter opens with a detailed explanation on how we perceive perspective with our eyes and thus how we can reconstruct it by drawing using vanishing point projection and a view point. The rest of the book is organised in a very clear way, always with a text on the left side describing a geometric task and an educative illustration made by a detailed copperplate engraving on the right hand. The texts on the left side have a recurring order: Title, chapter, an illustrative strip, a very dominant first letter and on the bottom a sign.
It goes on with rather simple geometric forms, like cubes and circles and how to set them in perspective and moves on to more and more sophisticated architectural elements to how to construct architectural perspective views from plans and elevations.
In the second book the focus lays on how to construct shadows caused by different sun radiation and how to draw objects in mirrors. It’s following the same order as in the previous book. Again it starts with some simple geometric forms and ends with some highly sophisticated constructed drawings of architecture even with humans or statues in it.
All in all the book has a very simple and comprehensible structure, consists of only 70 pages and stands out by its magnificent drawings.