This follows the theory that greater realism may have been achieved in the past with the aid of optical devices such as the camera obscura. While I don't doubt the possibility of Renaissance and post-Renaissance artists using drawing aids for initial sketching, I think the author is going to great pains to prove just a minor detail, for if any optical devices were used, it surely was just one of the many techniques painters relied on. For example, I find it interesting that the author doesn't mention: the classic education that was prevalent then that had a great focus in geometry and Greco-Roman art/history, nor, something as "of the period" as grisaille technique which allowed the painter to achieve greater realism, or 'photorealism' as the author puts it.
"The real work was thinking, just thinking." - Charles Chaplin
He starts by stating that the human eye won't be able to reproduce shade of the wall paint as a photograph would do it due, due to a compensating effect of human Vision.
He further states that projecting an image of the real scene onto canvas would mix-up the luminances of the reflected projection image and the reflection of the fresh painting. As the former is the lighting of the latter.
Using superimposed images as by means of a mirror however would add-up luminances.
Seeing the real Scene with one eye and the fresh painting with other might be an outcome.
But then that compensating effect of human vision would still exist in his design.
I recently was watching similar documentary (can't find the link) where proof for using lenses by old masters was shallow DOF in some parts of the paintings and optical distortion - that you would not normally have in paintings.
Are people surprised at this at all? People knew how to project images for a LONG time before they figured out chemical procesess to fix the image. The use of any and all optical aids to painting should be assumed.
Prisoners of war in German camps duplicated very complicated forged documents including "typewritten" texts and "official seals" and "photographs," all from pen and ink. In an atmosphere of great deprivation where everything they needed had to be scrounged, bribed for or stolen.The main thrust of the thread seems to be that if the writer can't do it, Vermeer could not do it. Did he ever think Vermeer was more talented than himself? Good ole boy Saddam Hussein told his pals that he had the atomic bomb, too. He claimed that a blacksmith in Damascus had whipped one up for him. I'll believe Sad old Saddam before I believe this stuff. Well, I needed to waste my time while finishing my coffee before venturing out into the 110 degreer heat. Mad Dogs and Englishmen....