eye-placement principle

Quick Reference

A principle of composition in portrait painting that involves the placement of one of the subject's eyes somewhere on the vertical axis running down the centre of the frame. It was discovered by the British-born US psychologist Christopher W(illiam) Tyler (born 1943) and published in the journal Nature in 1997. Tyler found that it has governed portrait painting throughout the modern period, 68 per cent of portraits showing one of the sitter's eyes within a narrow strip centred on the vertical axis occupying 10 per cent of the frame width, but that it had not been mentioned in manuals of composition, suggesting that it operates unconsciously.

Subjects: Psychology.

Reference entries