Nexus Network Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 133–155

On the Use of Perspective by Juan de Herrera, Architect of Philip II of Spain


DOI: 10.1007/s00004-015-0240-1

Cite this article as:
López-Mozo, A. Nexus Netw J (2015) 17: 133. doi:10.1007/s00004-015-0240-1


There are only two perspectives among the extant drawings of Juan de Herrera (1533–1597), who succeeded Juan Bautista de Toledo as architect of the Escorial. Both belong to the collection of engravings of that building made in 1589, after construction had already been completed. One is a bird’s eye view showing the exterior of the building; the other is an interior perspective of the main altar. Although both drawings appear to be rigorous, the external perspective shows a cupola with an unrealistically high tambour, dome and lantern. This paper analyzes both of these, along with a third, a bird’s eye view drawing of the building site by an unknown artist, conserved at Hatfield House (England), contextualizing them within the Escorial’s construction process and Herrera’s knowledge of perspective. The analysis argues that the elongated representation of the cupola was not an error caused by the difficulty of constructing a rigorous perspective or representing curve forms but was instead a deliberate choice made by the architect to make the cupola appear taller and slimmer.


Juan de Herrera The Escorial Hatfield drawing Sixteenth century Perspective drawing Sebastiano Serlio Daniele Barbaro Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola 

Copyright information

© Kim Williams Books, Turin 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ideación Gráfica ArquitectónicaUniversidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain

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