Italian RenaissanceTheancestors of man were experimenting with art over 12 thousand years ago,paintings as far back as 15,000 to 10,000 BC have been found in caves. Ourhistory of painting was slow to mature into the art we know and appreciatetoday. The most prolific period was the Renaissance period, with some of thebest known masters being represented by this period.
The Italian Renaissance wasas the name implies the rebirth of painting. This does not imply that all theadvances of painting came from this period but that the masters learned tocombine new and old. The Italian artist Masaccio, was referred to by some as thefather of Renaissance painting. Masaccio made notable advances in the styles ofpaintings such as perspective, space, and surrounding his subjects in light andair. Masaccio was the next great Italian painter after Giotto who died in 1337. Giotto who painted during the gothic period was able to display naturalistichuman dramas and used characteristics with renaissance qualities.
Some of thesewere showing figures as solid and weighty characters. Masaccio recognized whatGiotto had initiated and brought it forward with other characteristics aspreviously mentioned. The other two artist who deserve recognition in the earlypart of the Italian renaissance are Brunilleschi and Donatello for theirinnovations in linear perspective in sculpture and architecture. An importantscientific innovation by Masaccio was in the Holy Trinity with the Virgin andST. John.
The setting reveals a complete command of Brunelleschi’s newarchitecture and of scientific perspective. This barrel vaulted chamber is aplace that the figures could move freely if they wished. For the first time inhistory, we are given all the needed data to measure the depth of this paintedinterior. We note that all the lines perpendicular to the picture plane convergeupon a point below the foot of the cross, on the platform that supports thekneeling donors. To see the fresco properly, we must face this point, which isat normal eye level, somewhat more than five feet above the floor of the church. Masaccio had a very short career that ended at age 27 when he died while inRome.
His death left a gap that was not filled for some time. Fra Filippo Lippiseems to have had close contact with Masaccio and used many of his techniques. It did however lack Masaccio’s monumentality and severity and could beconsidered even cluttered. Masaccio was said to be absent minded, whimsical, andone who paid little attention to himself and others but the contribution he madeto the advancement in paintings changed it forever. The renaissance periodcontinued to flourish and produce many more masters in the field of painting.