Various attempts have been made to understand the role of the camera obscura in Renaissance painting. This study tries to understand the actual practice necessary to produce the image. Based on original artifacts as well as reconstructions I will first explore the functioning and making of the device, especially that of the lenses. From there I will illuminate the practice required to project and control the image. In order to comprehend historic practice I will draw on comparions from astronomical lenses and especially magic lantern projections. I will try to show how historic observers could rely on their optical instruments and media and thereby were able to come to a judgement on what they saw and what they wanted to see. I will conclude that not the quality of the projected image but first of all the observer’s visual judgement was at the very center of camera obscura practice.
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