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Author notes

Michael John Gorman teaches the history of science and technology at Stanford University. He directs the project “Artificial Eyes: Instruments, Observations and Art 1500–1700,” a project on the history of optical instruments at the Stanford Humanities Laboratory. He is currently developing an exhibition on the designs of R. Buckminster Fuller.

David Hockney's recent book Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters argues that 15th-century painters employed optical devices to achieve realistic portraiture. A reexamination of the history of optical projection techniques raises problems for Hockney's provocative hypothesis.

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