“Oblique” and “Catoptric”: Anamorphic Artworks by Jonty Hurwitz

The painting The Ambassadors (1533) by Bavaria-born artist Hans Holbein the Younger (c.1497–1543) occupies a special place in the history of Western art. It features Jean de Dinteville (French Ambassador to the court of Henry VIII of England) and Georges de Selve, Bishop of Lavaur (in southern France). Important elements include an Azerbaijanian rug and mathematical instruments like dials and quadrants. The artwork remains most famous, however, for a strange momento mori in the foreground, at the bottom – a human skull – tilted, contracted, stretched. Visible in its correct form only when seen from an oblique point of view. This is an example of “anamorphosis” – a distorted projection of an object that is set right when regarded from a specific perspective or when reflected on another surface.


The Ambassadors (1533) by Hans Holbien, Wikimedia Commons



Leonardo’s Eye. First image is distorted projection. Second – correct – image is what you get when you look at the drawing from an oblique point of view.

It is believed that the practice goes back to Leonardo da Vinci. The Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan has a large collection of the Renaissance polymath’s notes. There, on folio 35 of the Codex Atlanticus, are two strangely elongated sketches of a child’s head and an eye. These distorted and hesitant drawings, the first known anamorphoses (c.1485) – along with Holbein’s painting – are the seeds of inspiration for Jonty Hurwitz (born 1969) – a London-based South African artist, engineer and entrepreneur, known for his scientifically inspired works. “Leonardo pushed the boundaries of his time by exploring how the observer’s perception is implicitly linked to the observation,” says Jonty. “My art uses Leonardo’s theories as a starting point.”

A member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, Jonty creates sculptures of both “Oblique Anamorphosis” and “Catoptric Anamorphosis”. The first requires a new angle of vision and the second, a reflecting surface like a steel cylinder. Jonty is also into nano technology and holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s smallest animal form – “Fragile Giant” (2015), a life-like sculpture of an elephant measuring 0.157mm in height.

You will find a selection of his anamorphic sculptures below.

Links: Website (www.jontyhurwitz.com) | Facebook (www.facebook.com/jontyhurwitzart) | Twitter (@jontyhurwitz) | Tumblr (jontyhurwitz.tumblr.com) | Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonty_Hurwitz)

Images used with permission.



The Ambassadors in Other Wavelengths by Jonty Hurwitz


The Ambassadors in Other Wavelengths by Jonty Hurwitz



The Hurwitz Singularity by Jonty Hurwitz


The Hurwitz Singularity by Jonty Hurwitz





Childhood by Jonty Hurwitz


The Hand that Caught Me Falling by Jonty Hurwitz


Large Scale Anamorphic Frog by Jonty Hurwitz


Maternal Hands by Jonty Hurwitz


Yoda and the Anamorph by Jonty Hurwitz


The Illusive by Jonty Hurwitz

One thought on ““Oblique” and “Catoptric”: Anamorphic Artworks by Jonty Hurwitz

  1. Pingback: Art History blog

Comments are closed.