Florence – Massacio’s Trinity

University staff have decided to go on strike so we have decided to skip Venice for a couple of days and see Florence. Have not been here for years because of all the low life but despite that you just have to stand in awe at the sites. 

Florence, Mussolini, architecture, railways
Florence Railway Station, Italy, 1932.

Santa Maria Novella is first port of call after leaving the wonderful fascist brutality of the station facade designed by the Gruppo Tuscana in 1932, and walking a few yards to the great Dominican church. Here you will see great sixteenth century paintings, fifteenth century frescoes, Medieval stained glass and statuary of the highest order. But we came to “tick off” one of the iconic frescoes in the canon of western art.

Florence, Massacio, Trinity, Botticelli, Strozzi
The Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy.

Masaccio’s Trinity, to me, marks the point when the Italian Renaissance started moving through the gears and entering the modern world. The fresco of 1427 which was hidden behind an altar for many years, combines the realiism of Giotto, the architectural perspective of Brunelleschi, and the emotional engagement that was unique to Masaccio. 

Florence,
Massacio, The Trinity, 1427, Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy

The painting shows the Trinity with God the father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit under a Brunelleschian arcade, with the Virgin, John the Evangelist and two (unknown) donors. The base is a cadaver tomb with the inscription “I once was what you are and what I am you also will be”. These momento mori were popular in fifteenth century Europe.

Massacio was a giant of the early renaissance despite his early death at age twenty seven, and the small body of work he produced. 

It has been a highlight of this Italian trip to stand in front of this great and important painting for the first time.

Oh… and for those who love Botticelli there is an exquisite Nativity in the arch above the west door!

Massacio, Florence, nativity, adoration of the Magi
Sandro Botticelli, The Nativity, c1477, Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy

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