The ability to manipulate glass into lenses gave Copernicus the opportunity to view the heavens and the movement of the planets and challenge the Churches belief that the earth was the centre of the universe.
It allowed artists the opportunity to move from paintings based on fiction/myths to more realistic and perspectively accurate paintings by using a camera obscura.
David Hockney in his documentary 'Secret Knowledge' examined how he believed artists in 1600s were using a camera obscura to make their paintings more realistic.
This image by Gerrit van Honthorst has a realistic foreshortening and strong contrast between light and dark - which is a characteristic of a projected image. Around this time many artists produced canvasses of a very similar size supporting the idea that the obscura helped the painter complete his commission.
The invention and popularity of the camera and photography in 1839 pushed painters from creating realistic paintings into impressionism in the late 1800s.
All of this transformation comes from our ability to manipulate glass.
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