The Spread of Humanistic Ideals in Art

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Pope Sixtus IV commissioned Perugino, along with others, to illustrate the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Perugino chose a depiction from Matthew 16 of the Christian Bible. In this chapter, Peter the Apostle confesses that Jesus is Lord and Son of God. For this confession, Jesus blesses Peter and gives him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Perugino illustrates this by showing Jesus handing the key to the kneeling St. Peter while the Apostles, among others, congregate around them. Two temples are shown on either side of the central building. These two temples are modeled from the Arch of Constantine. Constantine is labeled as the first Christian Roman Emperor. In 312, the Roman Senate commemorated him with the Arches for ending a civil war fought at Rome’s Milvian Bridge. (Kleiner 225)

As a completely personal opinion, the central building appears to be a combination of Temple Mount, the Old St. Peter Basilica, and the (current) St. Peter Basilica. The old was commissioned by Constantine in 318, rebuilt in the 15th century, and is said to stand over the burial place of The Apostle, Peter. (Kleiner 242)

The significance of this piece comes from Matthew 16:18-20, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I wil give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” (ESV) The Catholic Church asserts Peter was the first Pope and this is the point that birthed Catholicism. In Christ Delivering the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter, Perugino pays tribute to Jesus Christ, St. Peter, Catholicism, and to the city of Rome.

The spread of humanistic ...

... middle of paper ... from various angles of visual interpretation, organization of patterns resulted, and how it all combines and is applied to a canvas.

Masaccio may have consulted with Brunelleschi while painting the Trinity. (Kleiner 464) The angling and alignments were drawn so that, when the horizon line is placed at eye level, one is looking up to the Holy Trinity and down at the sarcophagus. In Kahan Academy’s Masaccio’s Holy Trinity Dr. Zucker refers to Renaissance humanism as “A notion that man can observe, understand and to some extent control his world and that this is, and can be in, the service of God.” This illustration was visually appealing and appreciated by those who wanted that closer connection with the surrounding world. Also depicted were ancient Greek and Roman structures, both within the concentration of humanistic reform during the Renaissance. (Kleiner 448)
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