Notes on "The Holy Trinity" by Masaccio.

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The Holy Trinity is often considered one of the first pieces of Renaissance art because unlike pre-renaissance paintings, god is represented in human form behind Jesus on the cross. It was unheard of to actually paint God before this time, and painting God in this way also shows Humanism. God was often painted as a singular hand, as though God was an abstract force or power. Masaccio transformed the direction of Italian painting, and for the first time presented art in a more natural and humanist way – thus moving away from the idealisations of gothic art. The figures in The Holy Trinity are far more realistic than in previous medieval paintings – they are more three dimensional and attention has been paid to realism and volume – the figures are correct in proportion and scale – not small and flat like in latter paintings. In medieval paintings the donor figures would have been much smaller than the sacred figures – here the donor figures are the two people at the bottom left and right of Christ. Use of unequal heights emphasise the importance and significance of each character and draws the viewer into the painting. It is also very realistic due to how symmetrical all the architectural features are. There is also correct perspective used; the coffers (indentations in the ceiling) all recede into the background using the vanishing point, which is at the base of the cross. The writing on the tomb at the bottom of the painting reads “I was once what you are and what I am you will also be”. This painting was intended to serve as a lesson to the viewers: that since everyone would die, only their faith in Christ’s sacrifice and in the Trinity would allow them to overcome their “transitory existences”.

The Holy Trinity is often considered one of the first pieces of Renaissance art because unlike pre-renaissance paintings, god is represented in human form behind Jesus on the cross. It was unheard of to actually paint God before this time, and painting God in...
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