Religious Art Essay

1857 words - 7 pages

3. Select one work of religious art or architecture which relates to one major world religion. Explain how it functions in relation to the beliefs and practices of that religion.Tommaso Masaccio?s Tribute Money, one of the most significant works of the early Quattrocento, depicts a narrative scene from the Christian Bible. It is an intrinsic painting within a religious fresco cycle documenting the life of St. Peter, in the Brancacci Chapel, Florence. The depicted scene is a direct excerpt from the Bible, and its relationship with Christianity and religion is therefore inherent and unequivocal. The Tribute Money is also entirely successful in its varying ecclesiastical functions; to share religious literature with the illiterate mass of the fifteenth century, to glorify religion and give it an illustrious pedestal of societal importance, to illustrate themes of religious morality with the public.The Brancacci Chapel is located in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence, at the end of the right transept arm. Its history begins with Piero di Piuvichese Brancacci, who upon his death in 1367, provided for ?the founding of an ancestral chapel as proof and recognition of the social prestige of the family and an indication of its satisfactory financial position.?1 A rich and powerful ancestor of Piero Brancacci, Felice di Michele Brancacci, commissioned Masaccio and Masolino to decorate the chapel in February, 1423. It is believed that Felice chose the theme of St. Peter?s life because many of its aspects associated with his own mercantile interests, and the biblical St. Peter was somewhat idolised by him. The chapel was dedicated to the Virgin Mary (often referred to as Madonna, ?Our Lady of the People?, during the period), who was the figurehead of a religious following which glorified her immensely throughout the Renaissance era. It therefore can not be denied that while one intention of the chapels development was to exhibit the family?s aristocratic wealth and stature, the essential goal of the chapels construction was to ?exalt the man and the role of the Apostle Peter, the Church and its sacrament of salvation and the universal supremacy of the pope.?2 The Tribute Money is the second fresco in a cycle of twelve, preceded only by a smaller painting of The Expulsion which is segregated in subject manner from the theme of St. Peter. It is therefore most prominent in regard to order, whilst it logically attracts the most superlative regard for innovative artistic skill and aesthetic quality.Its dimensions are significant for the period, a large 2.47 x 5.97 meters. Subsequently, it attracts the initial attention of the viewer as his or her eye travels from left to right over the cycle, focussing on the larger and more striking of the illustrations. The painting possesses an eccentric nature in that the subject matter of taxation was not commonly portrayed in Renaissance art, lending the fresco a unique and individual character. Its religious...

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