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Lecture 13

ART 142 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Triptych, Sandro Botticelli, Aerial Perspective

Course Code
ART 142
Arthur Sparks

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January 18/ 2016
Painting in 15th century Italy (part 1):
- naturalistic settings and activities that were portrayed in a detailed and ornamental fashion,
like those we looked at before, became a style on their own. This style, called International
Gothic, spread. When it arrived in Italy (firstly in northern Italy) a new, more simplistic style of
painting came with it.
Gentile de Fabriano, Adoration of Magi:
- International Gothic style
- this is an altarpiece made for Santa Trinita Church
- it was commissioned by a wealthy banker called Palla Strozzi
- the arches surrounding the painting make it look like a triptych (three part folding panel, typi-
cally popular for personal devotion and worship)
- in the top left section we see the Magi looking at the new star, and realizing that something
important is about to happen; in the centre of the top register we see the Magi and their fol-
lowers heading towards Jerusalem to tell King Herod that the baby they now realize will be
born will be a king
- Finally, in the largest section of the painting, the Magi arrive in Bethlehem to worship and give
gifts to the Christ child
- this story allows for depiction of extravagant wealth; the gifts of the Magi, the detailed fabrics,
the ornamants, etc. were all details that the people of the court loved because it had rich peo-
ple, like themselves, being depicted (specific details include the exotic animals - pets - in-
cluded in the crowd; the detailed fabrics on all the people, but especially on the Magic them-
selves; and the horses equipment, which is not only gold in image but is also done in gold
leaf, showing even more wealth in the actual creation of the painting)
- this artist also has an interest in light and shadows (ex: light and shadows on the dog on the
ground and on the horses)
- the patron, Palla Strozzi, and his son are depicted as standing next to baby Jesus
- donating this altarpiece to the church as Strozzi did was, in the mind of the people, like repay-
ing God for giving this gentleman his wealth; putting a picture of himself in the painting also
shows his social status as important
- this artist was not commissioned a lot because his style of painting was for court; the people
of the republic of Italy looked back to the Republic of Rome and found a more stoic style of
painting that they preferred, and this severe style became popular just at the time of the crea-
tion of this altarpiece
Masaccio, The Holy Trinity:
Inside the imaginary chapel space:
- meant to look like a chapel opening into the wall
- shows God standing on the law of the old testament, and holding out his crucified son (repre-
senting his right to leave humankind to their own fate, but his fatherly action of redeeming
them with the sacrifice of his own son)
- small white dove around God’s neck represents the spirit, completing the Holy Trinity of fa-
ther, son and holy spirit
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- The virgin Mary and John the Apostle stand at the base of the cross
On the imaginary ledge outside of the chapel:
- looks like there is a ledge in front of the chapel space above viewers
- the two people standing on the ledge are guessed to be the patrons of the work; they are
thought to be of the Lenzi family, whose bodies are buried in the churches crypt
- below these figures in the painting is a skeleton in a crypt; above the skeleton is the inspira-
tion that says approximately: “I was once what you are; you will become what I am.” to remind
all people of the inevitability of death and their chance for salvation if they follow God
- this painting uses Linear/Scientific/Mathematical Perspective
Linear/Scientific/Mathematical Perspective:
- Brunelleschi practiced these techniques in approx. 1420’s
- The main components of this style are:
the artist has one area that they are regarding as the space they want to create
parallel lines converge on a pre-selected point in the distance; this is called the
vanishing point
these lines are called orthogonals
the artist draws in these parallel lines all going towards the vanishing point, and
then makes a grid by drawing transversals (lines that cut horizontally across the
space); the further back, closer to the vanishing point, that the lines get, the
closer they get together
the artist finishes the perspective outline by creating a horizon line
when people are added into the space, their heads all end at the horizon, but by
moving their feet closer or farther away from the vanishing point, they seem to be
closer or farther into the distance
As done by Masaccio in the Trinity:
- the vanishing point is at the height of the people standing in front of the wall
- the orthogonals align with the coffers in the ceiling; even Jesus’ hands align with an orthogo-
- has tried to emphasize the messages that God gave his son for the benefit of all of humanity,
and that all people will die and can achieve salvation through God
Masaccio, The Tribute Money:
- made for the Brancacci Chapel
- scenes depicted are mainly from the life of Peter (because the Brancacci who commissioned
the painting was also named Peter) and show his importance to Jesus’ life
- Jesus and the apostles enter a town, and the tax collector says that they must pay the entry
tax; Jesus and the apostles, however, are poor and have no money to pay the taxes. Jesus
tells Peter to go to the river and catch a fish, and he does; when they look in its mouth there
is a coin in the perfect amount to pay the taxes
- at the time of this painting, the first universal tax was begun in Florence; this painting may be
a reminder to all to pay their taxes
- this painting is in Linear Perspective; all the orthogonals converge on the face of Jesus
- the heads of all the people are at the same height, but their feet are at different depths to
show their recession into space
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