ABSTRACT

The authors hypothesize that Rembrandt developed new painterly techniques in order to engage and direct the gaze of the observer. Although these methods were not based on scientific evidence at the time, they are nonetheless consistent with a contemporary understanding of human vision. The authors propose that artists in the late early-modern period developed the technique of textural agency—selective variation in image detail—to guide the observer's eye and thereby influence the viewing experience. They conclude with the presentation of laboratory evidence that Rembrandt's techniques indeed guide the modern viewer's eye as proposed.

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