There are several ways to indicate the angle at which a person is depicted in the visual arts: en profil/in profile, en trois quarts, frontal. While these all generally relate to portraits, I wonder if there is a term for seeing a person from the back.

In video games there is the term 'third person', but while this term AFAIK is gaining ground in the film world, this has more to do with the position of a camera in relation to a person we identify with than with one we are watching as someone else (or empathize with).

Hammershøi famously depicted people this way in his still interiors, influenced by Vermeer and Ter Borgh:

Vilhelm Hammershoi - Interior with Young Woman seen from the Back - 1904

This painting is titled 'Interior with Young Woman seen from the Back', but I wonder if there is a more technical term.

  • 1
    And by "more technical", you mean a translation of "from the back" into another language, like French? Just like " en profil , en trois quarts"...
    – virolino
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 21:18
  • Not in French, specifically, no. I wonder if there is a more technical term than 'from the back'. Preferably a single word, or a more unique set of words, that makes it easier to find, identify, and describe this type of view.
    – Joachim
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 23:02
  • That is a hard one. I am a writer who knows the Spanish language well, including the Mexican vernacular, and I am unable to think of one. I will ask my companion when she comes, she knows the of old folk sayings; when I dont know a word I always ask her. Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 23:39
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    I'll leave this as a comment because it isn't definitive, but it isn't clear that there is a dedicated term for this. I did some Google-fu and found a lot of references to specific works. Most were identified as "view from the back", a couple as "back view". One image of a ballerina from the back was identified as "unrecognizable ballerina". I couldn't find any reference to a particular terminology other than such common English-language descriptors.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Dec 24, 2021 at 21:15

3 Answers 3


There is a term. My old university professor and friend used it in conversation only last week. Rückenfigur is the German art term for a figure seen from behind, and placed inside the scene as a proxy for the viewer.

  • Thank you, Will! This is the most fitting answer.
    – Joachim
    Commented Nov 10, 2023 at 22:08

Posterior: The back or behind, as opposed to the anterior.

As seen here: https://www.medicinenet.com/anatomic_orientation_terms/definition.htm

  • 2
    That seems to be used exclusively for anatomical images, though.
    – Joachim
    Commented Sep 14, 2022 at 5:19
  • 1
    Welcome to Arts & Crafts. Good suggestion, but to me, it misses the mark for a couple of reasons. 1. It's a term used in medicine and some other fields. I'm not aware that it's the term commonly used in art. 2. I'm not sure it captures the correct "perspective". It describes the visible surface of the subject. The viewer's experience would be different (view of the posterior, view from the rear). Then the perspective, itself, has a name. In architecture, it might be called "rear elevation", but I don't think that's used in art. Rear view? Posterior view? That's the gist of the question.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 18:08

Rear View

It's called simply 'rear view'. I know this from attending art school in London. And visiting more than 100 art museums around the world.

Rear means 'from behind'. It's somewhat hard to look up, obscured by cars and rear view mirror for some reason.

But if you Google 'Degas, rear view of a dancer' and click images, you'll see about 1 million results, including a painting by Degas with this name:


Or Google 'rear view of a dancer' you'll see 12.3 million results.

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