Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tribute Money and Holy Trinity, Massaccio 

Tribute Money

While this painting does not stick completely to the actual Biblical story, elements from the original telling are still maintained and the instance is not mistaken. The middle is the confrontation, then the left where the money is pulled from the fish's mouth, and then the right, where Peter hands it over to the tax collector. Jesus's head acts as the vanishing point of the painting, drawing the viewer's eye there and also glorifying him as the center of the story and of the most importance. Perspective and chiaroscuro are techniques well-used in this fresco. 

Holy Trinity

Massaccio's well-honed technique is evident in this painting as well. Massaccio tricks the eye to create a three-dimensional perspective with many of his characters, including God the Father that is supporting the cross on which Jesus hangs. He even keeps the two characters kneeling on either side of cross realistic and lifesize although those are merely tributes to the donors that made the painting possible. It's not necessarily a testament of his thankfulness, but of his commitment to a realistic painting. Triangles abound in this portrait, whether upside down, sideways, large or small. They are an important tool for measuring and for perspective and relationship between characters. It keeps the picture balanced. 

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