Mario Ponzo and the Age of Visual Illusions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Vision had long been investigated by Italian artists and scientists such as Brunelleschi, Alberti, Leonardo, and Galileo, and all of them had been concerned with illusions. The pace of experimental studies of a subset of illusions quickened in the second half of the 19th century, but the investigation of such geometrical optical illusions started rather late in Turin. It was stimulated by the arrival of Kiesow from Wundt’s laboratory in Leipzig. Botti initiated experiments on spatial illusions, followed by Ponzo, who wrote two articles in 1912 that indelibly linked his name to a simple configuration of equal circles or lines contained with converging lines—the Ponzo illusion. This happened despite the publication of essentially the same figures over a decade earlier by Thiéry and Sanford.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Birth of Modern Neuroscience in Turin
EditorsStefano Sandrone, Lorenzo Lorusso
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic) 9780190907617
ISBN (Print)9780190907587
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • geometrical optical illusions
  • Ponzo illusion
  • Luigi Botti
  • Mario Ponzo
  • Friedrich Kiesow


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