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Virgin and Rogier van der Wayden

Masaccio,Trinity with a Virgin and Rogier van der Wayden: A Comparison Two of the most recognizable works of art from the fifteenth century are Trinity with a Virgin by Masaccio painted in fourteen twenty-eight and Deposition painted by Rogier van der Wayden in fourteen thirty-five. Both pieces were painted during the Italian Renaissance and Early Netherlandish Period which was a time of resurgence of art and Classicism that followed the Medieval Period. Religious subject were popular during this time. The Trinity with a Virgin by Masaccio is a fresco that is in Florence, Italy in the church Santa Maria Novella.

It was in Florence that Masaccio painted during his short career as one of the Italian Renaissance’s greatest painters. The Trinity consists of God, who is the largest and most majestic of the three to represent that he is the father, Jesus, who represents the son who came to earth as a man, stretched on the cross to show what he did for mankind, and the Holy Spirit shown in the form of a dove as he appeared at the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. The Trinity is the central subjects, however, the Virgin Mary and John and one of the donors on each side of the Trinity.

Deposition by Wayden is done in oil on oak panels and is in Madrid, Spain. Wayden was, with Jan van Eyk , was the greatest examples of the Early Netherlandish Period. The painting’s central subject is Jesus, like it is in Trinity with a Virgin. The eye of the viewer is then drawn to the Virgin Mary who has fainted from the pain that she has had to endure with the crucifixion of her son. The four evangelist, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are represented in the painting as well as Mary Magdalene. Both Deposition and Trinity with a Virgin contain the stylistic qualities of the artistic period in which they were painted.

Deposition was painted during the Early Netherlandish Period which corresponded with the Italian Renaissance. One of the qualities was that of illusionism. Deposition, the alter piece commissioned by Louvain Crossbowmen’s Guild, gives the illusion of being three dimensional. It deals with the subject of Christ’s descent from the cross which was an extremely popular theme during the time period. The addition of the evangelist, Mary Magdalene, and the Virgin Mary are examples of iconography which was also practiced by Jan van Eyk.

The stylistic quality that stands out most in Trinity with a Virgin is the interest in classical Greek influences. This is evident in the painting with the Corinthian pilasters with plain architecture with the columns that support arches on all sides. The Stylistic similarities of both Deposition and Trinity with a Virgin are evident. In both of the paintings the cross is a major article in the death of Christ. He is thin gauntness is evident to attract the viewer’s attention to the painfulness of the situation. When viewing Trinity with a Virgin, it seems that the fresco is a deep alcove with a vaulted ceiling.

The effect is one that is more than one dimensional. The eye is actually drawn into the picture as if it really did curve inward while the body of Jesus seems to jut out toward the viewer. Deposition is also multi dimensional. The figures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary especially seem to fall forward toward the viewer. While there are similarities in the paintings, there are many more differences. The Deposition is much more realistic than the other. The clarity of the painting is much brighter where as the colors of Trinity with a Virgin more plain and muted.

This of course is because the Greek influence is simpler. The Christ figure is in pain during the process of crucifixion yet the viewer is reminded that God, who is larger than all of the other forms of the Trinity, is in control. In Deposition, Jesus is dead and there is a disparity for all of the living followers of him although his facial expression is much more at peace. Jesus is flanked by his followers while in Trinity with a Virgin, the Trinity is surrounded by people of the time period in which it was painted.

While these individuals who surround the Trinity are clothed in shapeless flowing garments, three with head coverings, the followers in Deposition’s clothing is detailed and representative of the fifteenth century instead of the time of Christ. The garments are fitted and are made of rich elaborate fabrics. Italy is the home of the Roman Catholic Church and because of that, even with the Renaissance, their manner was more reserved. There was a concentration of the pain and suffering of Christ as he gave the gift of salvation to the world.

This is seen in Trinity with a Virgin where suffering and the Holy Spirit proclaiming God’s victory is evident. Rome, Italy was the culture that overtook the ancient Greek society and therefore it was much more heavily influenced by Classicalism than was other parts of Europe and that is why it is seen in the painting. The Netherlands was focused on the Christian religion but not like the Italians. The distance from the church and the influence of Northern Europe instead of the ancient Greeks are evident in Deposition.

Since Deposition was commissioned by the Crossbow Guild, it was geared more upper middle class people who were more impressed with reality than Trinity with a Virgin who was commissioned by a wealthy family and therefore they had to be painted into the picture so that they could show the world that they were the ones who gave the money for the artistic work. Trinity with a Virgin by Masaccio and Deposition are works from the fifteenth century that have stood the test of time. Both are masterpieces that represent their time period and the cultures that produced them.

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