Holy Trinity (Masaccio)

Infobox Painting|

title=The Holy Trinity
museum=Santa Maria Novella, Florence

"The Holy Trinity, with the Virgin and Saint John and donors" ( _it. Santa Trinità) is a famous fresco by the Early Italian Renaissance painter Masaccio. It is located in the church of Santa Maria Novella, in Florence.

This is the most celebrated work of Masaccio beside the frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel. Opinions vary as to exactly when this fresco was painted between 1425 and 1428. It was rediscovered in its entirety in 1861, after being hidden in the sixteenth century by a Vasari altarpiece and a stone altar.

The work was taken up by nineteenth-century critics as a revelation of Brunelleschi's principles in architecture and the use of perspective, to the point that some believed Brunelleschi to have had a direct hand in the design of the work. When it was executed, no actual coffered barrel vault had yet been constructed. [Siegfried Giedion, in "Space, Time and Architecture", points out that the first would be Leon Battista Alberti's interior and external barrel vaults at Sant'Andrea, Mantua, begun nearly five decades after Masaccio's premature death.]

The "Trinity" is noteworthy for its inspiration taken from ancient Roman triumphal arches and the strict adherence to the recent perspective discoveries, with a vanishing point at the viewer's eye level, so that, as Vasari describes it ["Le vite...":"Masaccio"] "a barrel vault drawn in perspective, and divided into squares with rosettes which diminish and are foreshortened so well that there seems to be a hole in the wall." This artistic technique is called trompe l'oeil which means, "deceives the eye," in French. The fresco had a transforming effect on generations of Florentine painters and visiting artists. The sole figure without a fully-realized three-dimensional occupation of space is the majestic God supporting the Cross, considered an immeasurable being. The figures of the two patrons [the patrons are identified as members of the Lenzi family or, more recently, Berto di Bartolomeo del Bandeario and his wife] represent another important novelty, occupying the viewer's own space, in front of the picture plane, which is represented by the Ionic columns and the pilasters from which the feigned vault appears to spring; they are depicted in the traditional prayerful pose of donor portraits, but in natural size and with a noteworthy attention for realism and volume.

The most likely interpretation of the "Trinity" is that the painting links the traditional medieval connection of the chapel with Golgotha the "place of the skull" where Christ died, with the patrons' or Adam's tomb in the lower part and the Crucifixion in the upper part. But it can also assume the significance of the journey the human spirit must undertake to reach salvation, rising from the earthly life and corruptible body through prayer (the two petitioners and patrons) and the intercession of the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist to the Trinity.

A close-up view of the skeleton in the sarcophagus also revealed the ancient warning, in clear letters: I WAS WHAT YOU ARE AND WHAT I AM YOU SHALL BE.


Further reading

*Goffen, Rona. "Masaccio's 'Trinity" (series "Masterpieces of Western Painting")

External links

* [http://www.humanitiesweb.org/human.php?s=g&p=a&a=i&ID=381 HumanitiesWeb: Masaccio's "Trinity"]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Holy Trinity —    The Holy Trinity is the encapsulation of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost into one being. In the Renaissance, the Holy Trinity came to be represented as a figure of God holding the crucified Christ, between them the Holy Ghost in… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • 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… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Trinity (disambiguation) — Trinity, in its general sense, can refer to any collection of three things. More specifically, it refers to:Religion*Trinity, the Christian concept of God as three persons *Trinity Sunday in Christian liturgy *Trimurti, the Hindu concept of God… …   Wikipedia

  • Masaccio — Detail of St. Peter Raising the Son of Theophilus and St. Peter Enthroned as First Bishop of Antioch, Brancacci Chapel, S. Maria del Carmine, Florence Birth name Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Mone (Simone) Cassai …   Wikipedia

  • Masaccio — (Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Mone; 1401 c. 1428)    Masaccio was born in San Giovanni Valdarno, near Florence where he is recorded as having joined the painters guild in 1422. Masaccio was his nickname, a derogatory appellation that referred to… …   Dictionary of Renaissance art

  • Masaccio — (1401 ca. 1428)    Florentine painter. Despite the small number of paintings he completed before his premature death at age 27, Tommaso di Giovanni di Simone Guidi, nicknamed Masaccio, was one of the most influential painters in the history of… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Masaccio — /mah saht chaw/; Eng. /meuh sah chee oh /, n. (Tommaso Guidi) 1401 28?, Italian painter. * * * orig. Tommaso Di Giovanni Di Simone Guidi born Dec. 21, 1401, Castel San Giovanni, Duchy of Milan died autumn 1428, Rome, Papal States Italian painter …   Universalium

  • Baptism — This article is about the Christian religious ceremony. For other uses, see Baptism (disambiguation). Baptism of Neophytes by Masaccio, 15th century, Brancacci Chapel, Florence.[ …   Wikipedia

  • Italian Renaissance painting — is the painting of the period from the early 15th to mid 16th centuries occurring within the area of present day Italy, but at that time divided into many political areas. The painters of Renaissance Italy, although often attached to particular… …   Wikipedia

  • Trinidad con Cristo muerto — es un tema de pintura religiosa muy común. Se representa a las tres Personas de la Santísima Trinidad, con la particularidad de que Dios Padre aparece recogiendo el cuerpo de Cristo muerto. La representación del Espíritu Santo suele hacerse en… …   Wikipedia Español

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.