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The Holy Trinity By Masaccio Essay Research

The Holy Trinity By Masaccio Essay, Research Paper The Holy Trinity by Masaccio was done approximately 1428. It is a superb example of Masaccio’s use of space and perspective. It consists of

The Holy Trinity By Masaccio Essay, Research Paper

The Holy Trinity by Masaccio was done approximately 1428. It is a

superb example of Masaccio’s use of space and perspective. It consists of

two levels of unequal height. Christ is represented on the top half, in a

coffered, barrel-vaulted chapel. On one side of him is the Virgin Mary,

and on the other, St. John. Christ himself is supported by God the Father,

and the Dove of the Holy Spirit rests on Christ’s halo. In front of the

pilasters that enframe the chapel kneel the donors (husband and wife).

Underneath the altar (a masonry insert in the painted composition) is a

tomb. Inside the tomb is a skeleton, which may represent Adam. The

vanishing point is at the center of the masonry altar, because this is the

eye level of the spectator, who looks up at the Trinity and down at the

tomb. The vanishing point, five feet above the floor level, pulls both

views together. By doing this, an illusion of an actual structure is

created. The interior volume of this ’structure’ is an tension of the

space that the person looking at the work is standing in. The adjustment

of the spectator to the pictured space is one of the first steps in the

development of illusionistic painting. Illusionistic painting fascinated

many artists of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The proportions in this painting are so numerically exact that one can

actually calculate the numerical dimensions of the chapel in the

background. The span of the painted vault is seven feet, and the depth is

nine feet. “Thus, he achieves not only successful illusion, but a

rational, metrical coherence that, by maintaining the mathematical

proportions of the surface design, is responsible for the unity and harmony

of this monumental composition.” Two principal interests are summed up by

The Holy Trinity: Realism based on observation, and the application of

mathematics to pictorial organization. All of the figures are fully clothed, except for that of Christ

himself. He is, however, wearing a robe around his waist. The figure is

“real”; it is a good example of a human body. The rest of the figures,

who are clothed, are wearing robes. The drapery contains heavy folds and

creases, which increases the effect of shadows. The human form in its

entirety is not seen under the drapery; only a vague representation of it

is seen. It is not at all like the ‘wet-drapery’ of Classical antiquity. Massacio places the forms symmetrically in the composition. Each has

its own weight and mass, unlike earlier Renaissance works. The fresco is

calm, and creates a sad mood. The mood is furthered by the darkness of the

work, and the heavy shadows cast. Grunewald’s The Isenheim Altarpiece is an oil painting on wood,

completed in 1515. The altar is composed of a carved wooden shrine with

two pairs of movable panels, one directly in back of the other. The

outermost scene is the Crucifixion; on the inside there are two others.

On the two sides, two saints are represented (St. Sebastian on the left,

and St. Anthony on the right). Together, these saints established the

theme of disease and healing that is reinforced by the inner paintings. On

the bottom of the panel, when opened, it appears that Christ’s legs were

amputated; possibly an allusion to ergotism, a disease treated in the

hospital where the altarpiece was kept. An image of the terrible suffering of Christ is in the middle. The

suffering body hangs against the dark background, which falls all the way

to the earth. The flesh is discolored by decomposition and is studded with

the thorns of the lash. His blackening feet twist in agony, as do his

arms. His head is to one side, and his fingers appear as crooked spikes.

The shuddering tautness of Christ’s nerves is expressed through the

positions of his fingers. Up to this point, no other artist has ever

produced such an image of pain. The sharp, angular shapes of anguish

appear in the figures of the swooning Virgin and St. John, and in the

shrill delirium of the Magdalene. On the other side, John the Baptist, a

gaunt form, points a finger at the body of the dead Christ. Even though

death and suffering are dominant in the altarpiece, there are symbols of

hope: The river behind St. John, which represents baptism, and the

wine-red sky which symbolizes the blood of Christ. Through these bols, a

hope of salvation is offered to the viewer. The use of space is ambiguous in some places: All of the forms are at

the same general depth in the painting. However, none of the forms are

tangled, or intertwining. Therefore, the space is not badly used. Once again, all of the forms except for that of Christ are fully

clothed. Christ is again wearing a small robe around his waist. The other

forms are depicted superbly. Their bodies are not lost behind the drapery

which they wear, yet they are not seen exactly either. The folds are more

delicate, which create a calmer mood. (Christ’s description was already

given). The forms are three dimensional, and also have weight. They

clearly take up space, and where they are is clearly defined. As in The Holy Trinity, the composition is generally symmetrical,

centered around the body of Christ. It is a frightful composition,

because of the events taking place. Expression is shown on all of the

figures, who grieve Christ’s death. Overall, the two works are very similar. Masaccio, however, was more

interested in the mathematical aspects of painting than Grunewald. Both

works are superb, and have their own distinct qualities.

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