Believing what you See or Seeing what you Believe


A classic example of the way in which perception can be misled is the galop volante. In pre-20th Century art forms (e.g. Gericault’s Horse Race (c. 1820)) the accepted way of depicting horses galloping was to show them racing with all four feet off the ground and with the front feet pointing in the opposite direction to the back feet.


Gericault was probably unconsciously copying 18th century English hunting prints, copied from the engravings of Charles Cochin (c. 1750), who had been influenced by Chinese porcelain and prints introduced into France. The Chinese gallop volante is found in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 220); they probably borrowed it from the nomadic Iranian tribes, who borrowed it from the Mycenaeans who got it from Palaeolithic man’s cave paintings!





However, no horse gallops like this naturally and it was not until the advent of multiple frame photography in the late 19th and early 20th Century that people realised that galloping horses actually look like this:



Artists subsequently changed their art to match



A classic example of how we see what we believe is true not what’s ‘really out there’.