Week 8 Blog (Melia)

Renaissance art is like the bowl of “just-right” porridge from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It takes ideas from the Greek era and ideas from the Roman era, with a splash of new ideas, which results in ground-breaking artwork. The paintings are vibrant, the architecture is incredible, and the sculptures are chiseled to perfection. To say that the Renaissance is the crowing achievement would be quite a statement, but I do agree with it. So much progress was made towards original ideas and so much was achieved during this time. Just look at the dome of Florence Cathedral; nothing like it had ever been done before, but that didn’t stop Brunelleschi. Also, he didn’t just construct a genius dome; he also invented machinery to build his structure successfully. Pretty amazing.

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Masaccio’s Holy Trinity was made in 1425 and shows many of the new ideas that the Renaissance brought to the table. This painting is a fresco, which means the pigment was applied to wet plaster at just the right time (not too wet and not too dry) so that the color would set and stay. Standing in Santa Maria Novella, Florence, this fresco is twenty-one feet tall. There are six figures seen (not including the “memento mori” in the coffin) arranged in an ascending structure with the Trinity at the point. Brunelleschi’s vanishing point system is used in this painting and is found at the center of the step, which would be at eye-level of a viewer. The surrounding area shows a rectangular room with a barrel vault. Several pillars are seen in the painting and the cross sets the center focal point of the piece.

Hence the title, Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit hold the center of attention of this fresco. You may ask, “Where’s the Holy Spirit, I don’t see him?” and although it is difficult to see, there is a dove directly above the head of Jesus which symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Directly next to Jesus’ body on the cross stands Mary and Saint John. Mary is gesturing towards Christ and Saint John is expressing grief. Then, on the next step down, the figures in red and black cloaks are most likely donors from the Lenzi family (Adams, 244). They were included in the painting because they commissioned it. Below this triangular shape of figures, is a skeleton in a coffin with an inscription called a memento mori. The two figures ascending on both sides of Jesus’ figure balances the piece and creates movement towards the cross.

A lot of linear action is found in this fresco; lines are found in the architectural structure of the room (pillars, trim, steps, ceiling, etc.) and the cross. The curve of the barrel vault adds dimension and contrast to the hard angles and lines. Characteristic to the Renaissance, naturalism is heavy in the body positions and textures. The folds of the fabric are shaded to look real and a lot of detail was put into Christ’s body which is being pulled down by the weight of gravity. The colors used are vibrant, but the only figure dressed in white is Jesus. The pillars are also white on both sides of the painting, so having Jesus’ garment stand-out as the centered white object unifies the painting. Masaccio also alternated from lighter cloak to darker cloak as the figures went “up” the triangular structure. Even God’s rob is split in two colors to follow this color scheme. The emotional expression is high in this sacred space and I love how Masaccio used Renaissance techniques to create this beautifully balanced fresco.

Since we live in an imperfect world, improvements could always be done. This being said, I believe that yes, we are in need of a Renaissance Re-Birth. There are some things in this day and age that have spiraled out of control, and it would help a lot to revive the good ideals from older times. For example, technology is taking over many aspects of our lives. It would be refreshing and eye-opening to replace our smartphones and electric cars with a board game and roller skates. Don’t get me wrong, technology has done a lot of good in many fields, but in social circles, I think we could use a “re-birth”.

Contrary to what I just said about technology in the social realm, I think we are currently in a Renaissance-like time in the medical field with advances in technology and pharmaceuticals. Cures and improvements are rapidly being created which has saved many lives. We now have vaccinations against diseases that once swept entire populations and we’re working towards even more medicinal improvements. I don’t have a ton of knowledge in this area, but I do know that like the Renaissance, many achievements are being made and have been made towards a healthier world.

Adams, L. S. (2001). A History of Western Art (3rd Edition ed.). New York , New York: McGraw Hill.

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Hi! My name is Melia and my passions include teaching, art, and adventure. In pursuit of my biggest dream, I moved to Japan in March, 2022 to teach English. I am currently teaching kindergarten, exploring new places, trying new foods, and learning new things! Check out my blog to read about my journey and experiences :-)

3 thoughts on “Week 8 Blog (Melia)”

  1. I love what you said about the Renaissance being a “just-right” mix of Greek and Roman art. It really is a true statement and one of the reasons why this period is my favorite for art. It is incredible how Masaccio uses lines, positions, and color to emphasize Jesus. Everything seems to be pointing to him. I would agree with you that we seem to need a mental rebirth when it comes to technology. It seems to be consuming all of our lives and we should take a step back from that. There have been good things to come out of it, but it is time to realize that community and relationships with humans is what is important. I really enjoyed reading about your thoughts and your analysis!


  2. I like your analogy of the Renaissance being the “just-right” bowl of porridge. I totally agree with you that this style of art was concepts from Greek and Roman eras along with new ideas, which I think makes for the perfect combination. I think that the Renaissance is the crowning achievement as well. You did a great job on your art analysis. I like the piece you picked! I agree with you that technology has helped and hindered our society in certain ways. Great job!


  3. I think you did a great job analyzing the fresco, and brought up the newer elements in Renaissance art, like depth with color/darkness. Was there a particular reason you chose this piece?

    You bring up good points about technology. I think technology has helped us with many advancements, but the social aspects have been hindered. Even when we play board games on our phone (like Word with Friends/scrabble) we miss the real life interactions with those around us.


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