So the image I wanted to focus on today is The Holy Trinity by Masacio. I did a report on this painting so it is a huge favorite of mine.
Masacio is the first painter to use the rules of perspective in his works. His friend Brunelleschi was the one who came up with it and shared his ideas with Masacio. Masacio structures the fresco with the viewer in mind, making sure that the perspective was drawn according to the relation of how one would look up toward it. Masacio also styled his painting so that it would resemble a side chapel-he studied the rest of the church and made the barrel vaults and coffers look just like the ones in the real church.
Like Leonardo, Masacio used the number three and triangles a lot. As the painting itself was about the Holy Trinity, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (3), creating a whole painting out of triangles and threes connected the physical and spiritual realms.
- First the painting is divided into three squares; the top of the image to about Christ’s mid-chest, from mid-chest to the groundline that the donors who commissioned the painting (on the far right and far left) rest upon, and from that groundline to the bottom of the image.
- Many triangles are made throughout the image but the most significant being:
- God and the two donors
- Jesus, Mary (in purple) and John the Beloved (in a pinky hue)
- Jesus and the two donors.
Masaccio recognized that using this method would not only improve the composition of his image but it would also make the spiritual tone stronger. There is a scripture in the Bible, in John 14:6, that says “No one gets through the Father except through me” and the use of pyramidal composition with the ascending line from Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, and to the Father alludes to this passage.
To further the message of Christ on the cross, on the bottom is a skeleton and tombstone; a reminder that soon you will be dead, and should consider where you want to end up. Will you be like the thief that repented and went to Heaven, or will you be like the other thief, headed downward.
“They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.”–Mark 15: 21-23
“Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed…one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”–Luke 23: 32-34 and 39-43
“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)… Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.”–Mark 15: 33-36
“When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”–John 19: 30
“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open…When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”–Matthew 27:51-54
For more Easter posts, go to The Betrayal of Christ
For more Good Friday posts, go to Elevation of the Cross