Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The Church of Santa Maria del Carmine houses the frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel, built prior to 1386. The frescoes were begun in 1424, reworked, and restored. Brancacci met with some disapproval for allowing portrayals of some contemptuous people in the frescoes. Over time so frescoes were covered but later restored. The Chapel was not thoroughly completed until the 18th or 19th century.
Sometimes called the “Sistine Chapel of the early Renaissance”, Felice Brancacci, the patron, commissioned Panicale to paint his chapel. Panicale was assisted by Masolino and Masaccio but the frescoes were later completed by Lippi. The chapel is a plethora of vibrant frescoes. Twelve scenes beginning with The Original Sin and up to the Life of Saint Peter cover the walls and the dome of the Corsini Chapel is covered with frescoes by Giordano.
Masaccio was considered the first painter of his day to use scientific perspective, which he learned from his friend, the sculptor, Brunelleschi. Masolino and Masaccio used their paint in an unprecedented manner which evoked vivid energy and emotional realism that until that time had not been seen. Their use of three dimensionality was a trendsetter in Renaissance art. Flilppino Lippi, whose work is also in Santa Maria Novella and Lorenzo de Medici's villa at Spedaletto, is full of beautiful detail
There is a bit of controversy over which painter actually painted each fresco. Some were seemingly started by one but completed by another, making it difficult to attribute correctly the masterpiece to the appropriate master.
All the 14th century artists were greatly influenced by these scenes and used this cappella as a classroom to hone their skills. One such artist was Michelangelo, a regular to the Brancacci Chapel. It was here that he sharpened his skill by copying Masaccio’s works. It was also here that Michelangelo was assaulted by a rival sculptor who didn’t quite agree with Michelangelo’s critique of his work.
We only saw the chapel but my planning also mentioned a convent nearby which is also rich with masterpieces.