Sunday, February 22, 2009

Masaccio - Tribute Money

Artist's Name: Masaccio
Piece Name: Tribute Money
Date: ca. 1400
Period: Italian Renaissance
Material: Fresco
Purpose: Brancacci Chapel fresco

Masaccio depicted a rarely used story from the Gospel of Matthew as the subject of this fresco. As Christ tries to enter the Roman town of Capernaum, he is stopped by the tax collector and ordered to pay tribute before he is permitted to enter. Christ sends Saint Peter to the shore of Lake Galilee where Saint Peter will find a fish with the tribute money in its mouth. This narrative is shown in three parts of the same panel. To the left of the piece, Saint Peter is seen on the lake shore pulling the fish from the water. In the center, Christ and the disciples are shown being stopped by the tax collector. To the right of the scene, Peter hands the tribute money to the tax collector who stands in front of the gate into the town.

The figures are painted as lit by a light source outside the frame. The light is angled and the angle remains constant throughout the piece. This allows much greater depth in the piece, as does the placement of the figures in a spacious landscape, rather than in the confined stage space of earlier frescoes. The architecture is depicted in one-point perspective, with the lines converging onto Christ's head.

(Click for larger view)

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