MASACCIO,Vintage Art Masterpieces,Vintage Prints for Sale THE TRIBUTE MONEY – MASACCIO {Florentine School}

THE TRIBUTE MONEY – MASACCIO {Florentine School}

THE TRIBUTE MONEY

MASACCIO {Florentine School}

DURING the middle years of the fifteenth century, every celebrated painter of
Florence, from Andrea del Castagno to Leonardo and Michelangelo, came to
the church of the Carmine to study Masaccio’s frescoes.

Today the little chapel
is poorly lighted; the colors of the painting have darkened under layers of
dust and candle grease; and the backgrounds, once dramatic landscapes, are
clouded with a smoky gray atmosphere through which straight dead trees and
slaty hills are disclosed.

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But with patience, the modern visitor may still behold
the qualities which elicited the homage of the Renaissance masters.

The Tribute Money, measuring nine by four feet, in organizing power and
the manifestation, by attitude and gesture, of the emotional tension of the
actors, represents Masaccio at the height of his genius.

The story, taken from
St. Matthew, is a simple one: a tax collector came to Christ for the tribute
money required of strangers, and there being no money in hand, the Lord in­
structed St. Peter to go to the sea, cast in a hook, take the coin from the mouth
of the first fish that came up, and deliver it to the collector.

The three incidents
are combined in one picture-not an unusual custom with the early painters
-the central and most prominent scene dealing with the instructions of Christ
to St. Peter.

Here, for the first time in painting, Masaccio makes use of aerial perspec­
tive; that is to say, the figures are surrounded by light and air, not glued to
a rigid background, and move freely in space with plenty of elbowroom be­
tween them.

He models his characters with strong oppositions of light and
shade; in his hands architecture becomes realistic and inhabitable; he lays
hold of the secrets of foreshortening and of giving objects solidity by super­
imposing one against the other; and his landscapes have grandeur and scenic
fitness.

These are technical advancements of epochal significance, but Masac­
cio was driven to invent them by a profound human purpose. He gathered
together, in one of the most effective compositions in art, a collection of in­
dividuals worthy of the names they bear, men of fierce convictions, nobly
imagined, grouped around the commanding presence of

Christ-the whole
drawn with the ruthless simplicity and smiting power which, in a later cen­
tury, were reborn in Rembrandt and, much later, in Daumier.

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