I am looking for a word or expression, that describes the specific distance in the space that lets the observer appreciate and completely understand the object of observation.

For example, when one is in a museum and stands too close to an impressionist painting, one can only see the brush strokes but not the flowers. But if one stands at the right distance, one can easily recognise the flowers and the whole garden.

Is there an expression that describes the right distance to appreciate fully a given object?

Thank you very much! anak


3 Answers 3


I think that it is generally referred to as optimal viewing/observation distance which can be different from person to person according to specific characteristics and preferences.


maybe perspective is a word worth considering:

The relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole; the appearance of objects, buildings, etc, relative to each other, as determined by their distance from the viewer, or the effects of this distance on their appearance; the manner in which objects appear to the eye in respect to their relative positions and distance.

Interestingly, a forerunner of the saying can't see the forest for the trees was number the streaks of the tulip from a critic of Samuel Johnson's poetry, and meant to be overly concerned with details and thereby miss the main point. To my ear, it does sound a bit like looking at a painting too closely (looking at the brush strokes) to appreciate the whole, but was actually about the tulip (nature) itself.


Can you completely comprehend an object without taking into account the context in which you find it?

So in that sense, the optimal distance is both focused and contextual.

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