Masaccio’s The Tribute Money

1. Atmospheric standpoint is a technique that creates the illusion of depth popularized by using Masaccio. Objects at a distance are depicted as they would appear in real existence due to the atmosphere’s effect on colors and element of objects to create an illusion of depth.2. Artists in the Italian renaissance borrow first the major classical artwork themes of religious scenes, nudity and psychologically eliminated portraits. They use the classical attributes in their paintings where characters are drawn as perfect, symmetrical and calm figures in a rationally ordered environment. Italian renaissance artists are insistent in the thinking of a rationally ordered environment executing it perfectly the usage of techniques of atmospheric perspective and linear perspective. Masaccio’s The Tribute Money is a wonderful representation of the rational order in Italian paintings advancing the perfection goal descending from classical art.

3. The 15th century brought with it an increase in wealthy individuals profiting from merchant trade. These wealthy patrons desired to be represented in art as they were and their wealth showcased in the paintings as in the Arnolfini double portrait. This shifted artistic production from a focus on the perfect representation of religious scenes to people and their emotions. The shift in patronage also meant that gifted artists were assured of work and could experiment with different mediums and techniques to better their art work.4. Northern painters included their patrons within the same space, time and scale of the religious they were commissioned to paint. In the Merode altarpiece, the Master of Flemalle includes a couple who kneel in a garden in front of the door where the annunciation is taking place. The annunciation is in the center piece of the triptych with the couple in the wing.5. Cosimo de’ Medicci the elder funded the reconstruction of the church of San Lorenzo and commissioned the building of the Palazzo Medicci-Ricardi. Francesco Brunelleschi’s work on the San Lorenzo church in 1421 fostered the growth of Renaissance art in Italy on smaller scale buildings. He built the church with the classic gothic features of hemispherical dome, Corinthian columns, flat ceiling inset with coffers etc. The Renaissance building structures that followed gothic form would spread throughout Italy with small parishes being able to build imposing buildings on a smaller scale.

6. The domestic objects in the Arnolfini portrait would be an indication of a wealthy household in the 15th century context. To begin with, the clothing of Arnolfini and his wife was luxurious in the 15th century setting. The woman wears a dress made of luxurious and extravagant material as does the man in his silk velvet outer garment. The carpet, wall hangings, the bed and its hangings all objects of taste would indicate that the couple was wealthy. The 15th century observer would also note the couple’s adherence to the church in the spiritual prayer beads, the igure of St. Margaret curved on the chair beside the bed, and the cyclical images of scenes from the passion of Christ that frames the mirror. Van Eyck takes the technique of oil painting to brilliant levels in his use to describe different textures in his painting to make the surfaces of different objects look real. The shine in the chandelier, the velvet in the man’s outer garment, the carpet, the dog and the woman’s dress are all correctly textured for a real life appearance.

7. Diptych is a form of polyptych where the art is done on two sections called panels that displayed open and can be closed

8. Linear perspective is a system that was developed by Italian 15th century artists to represent three dimensional figures on two dimensional surfaces. The key element of the system is that objects become smaller as the distance increases. Lorenzo’s Ghiberti’s, “Gates from Paradise”, assumedly uses the system of linear perspective. Ghiberti places the main figures in each panel in the lower third of the panel with the supporting figures and backgrounds reducing in size. This affects the meaning conveyed with the observer clearly seeing the unfolding events within the space they occur rather than in a jumbe of backgrounds and characters

9. Trompe l’oeil is an art technique popularized in the Italian renaissance that creates the illusion of a three dimensional image through realistic imagery.

10. Woodcuts and engravings (usually) metal were both used to produce multiple copies of one image. In a woodcut, the artist draws the image of a smooth block of fine grained wood and cuts out areas around the image’s lines to remain with a cut-out of wood. A reverse image is transferred onto a paper by applying ink on the surface of the woodcut and pressing it on paper. In an engraving on the other hand, the artist cuts in lines of the image on the metal plate. An image is transferred onto a paper by applying ink on the engraving and forcing it down the engraved lines, wiping the surface and pressing the engraving onto a paper.11. This canvas is not decidedly a wedding portrait. The initial interpretation of the canvas as a wedding portrait was based on the supposed pregnancy of the woman, the somberness of the scene and the witnesses within the .With the woman’s garment determined to be a common design in the 15th century, the scene can be interpreted variously, it could indeed be a painting made to seal an agreement for a future engagement.

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