Italian Renaissance
The
ancestors 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. Our
history of painting was slow to mature into the art we know and appreciate
today. The most prolific period was the Renaissance period, with some of the
best known masters being represented by this period. The Italian Renaissance was
as the name implies the rebirth of painting. This does not imply that all the
advances of painting came from this period but that the masters learned to
combine new and old. The Italian artist Masaccio, was referred to by some as the
father of Renaissance painting. Masaccio made notable advances in the styles of
paintings such as perspective, space, and surrounding his subjects in light and
air. Masaccio was the next great Italian painter after Giotto who died in 1337.

Giotto who painted during the gothic period was able to display naturalistic
human dramas and used characteristics with renaissance qualities. Some of these
were showing figures as solid and weighty characters. Masaccio recognized what

Giotto had initiated and brought it forward with other characteristics as
previously mentioned. The other two artist who deserve recognition in the early
part of the Italian renaissance are Brunilleschi and Donatello for their
innovations in linear perspective in sculpture and architecture. An important
scientific innovation by Masaccio was in the Holy Trinity with the Virgin and

ST. John. The setting reveals a complete command of Brunelleschiís new
architecture and of scientific perspective. This barrel vaulted chamber is a
place that the figures could move freely if they wished. For the first time in
history, we are given all the needed data to measure the depth of this painted
interior. We note that all the lines perpendicular to the picture plane converge
upon a point below the foot of the cross, on the platform that supports the
kneeling donors. To see the fresco properly, we must face this point, which is
at 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 in

Rome. His death left a gap that was not filled for some time. Fra Filippo Lippi
seems to have had close contact with Masaccio and used many of his techniques.

It did however lack Masaccioís monumentality and severity and could be
considered even cluttered. Masaccio was said to be absent minded, whimsical, and
one who paid little attention to himself and others but the contribution he made
to the advancement in paintings changed it forever. The renaissance period
continued to flourish and produce many more masters in the field of painting.