Holy Trinity, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

(1427)
   Painted by Masaccio utilizing one-point linear perspective, the work is one of the earliest examples to make use of this technique. The scene unfolds in a chapel that convincingly recedes into space, with the vanishing point in the center of the masonry altar below it. The crucified Christ is presented as the Savior by God the Father who stands on a platform. At either side are the Virgin, who brings her son to our attention, and St. John who clasps his hands together. The work was commissioned by the Lenzi, included at either side of the painted chapel kneeling in prayer. Here Masaccio introduced the pyramidal composition that would become standard in Renaissance art. His placement of the figures follows a hierarchic order, with God the Father at the highest point, below him his son, then the Virgin and St. John, and finally the donors who occupy the space outside the painted chapel. Below the scene is a fictive tomb with a skeleton and inscription that reads: "I once was what you are, what I am you will become." With this, the image warns the viewer that life is temporary and only through Christ can salvation be attained. The work incorporates into painting the architectural principles of rationality, order, symmetry, and balance introduced by Filippo Brunelleschi, Masaccio's contemporary.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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