Discussion of Perspectives


How is this painting a good example of St. Augustine's ideas concerning the "City of Man and the City of God?"

How do these terms relate to the paintings above?
linear perspective
atmospheric perspective
aerial perspective



  1. Masaccio's Tribute Money illustrates the concept of the City of God and the City of Man, with linear perspective techniques. Recalling back from class, Professor Mencher traces out lines consisting of the horizon (eye line) and lines scaling off to the architecture of the piece. From there, one might recall that the vanishing point originates at Jesus, with the Horizon dividing up the picture plane into the the frontal people scenes, and the receding background. That is where the Augustine's concepts play in; the main scene unfolding at the forefront of the painting depicts a petty matter about money, which are the trifles of the human world. But evidently these trivial things matter not in the City of God, which is represented by the vast stretching distance in the background. The sfumato effect and usage of atmospheric perspective give it a feeling of eternity. This plays upon theological ideas, depicted in the classical greca humanistic style.

  2. Tribute Money is a good example of Saint Augustine's ideas concerning the "City of Man and the City of God" because of the tax reform story told in the painting. There are three parts to the story being displayed, the tax collector asking for the money, Jesus telling Peter how to get the money where he gets it from the fishes mouth then the money is handed to the tax collector. In Saint Augustine's "City of Man and the City of God" he explains how Christianity fights for the City of God in that they are abandoning earthly pleasures before this time Christianity was at war with Rome and Saint Augustine discussed how the people fighting for the City of Man is fighting for earthly pleasures and they are destined to fail, because they are not giving into the eternal truth of God and Christianity, the painting tells the story of a tax reform taking place thanks to Jesus that allowed a fairer taxation system in the city, demonstrating Christianity abandoning earthly pleasures for a much more fair and equal life for the people of the Christian faith. Tribute Money displays linear perspective in that the two men standing at the right, their hands meet at the same point and also the curvature of the building, the point of it on the left and right are lined up these are two examples of the artist using linear perspective where points are converging. It uses Atmospheric perspective in that the atmosphere has dark clouds with a glimmer of light poking through the clouds, the sun light seems to come from the top and is most bright at the door of the building, where the mountains are it is dark. It uses aerial perspective in that the color of their robes are very colorful, very bright, the blue and the gold, their pink, red colors mostly everyone is wearing bright green and blue creates an aerial perspective. It uses sfumato with all the different amount of colors in the painting sfumato is shown nearly everywhere allowing tones and colors to shade gradually into one another. It uses chiaroscuro in that the light and shade in the paiting, there is a lot of shade under the people and the fades to light toward the mountains and buildings, the whole painting uses chiaroscuro techniques. It's neoplatonic because it involves religious figures and architecture, this painting displays the Brancacci, chapel, an example of being neoplatonic, also Jesus is in the middle. What makes this painting humanistic is all the Apostles are standing around Jesus debating and discussing and leaning, making this painting humanistic. The Theological qualities is that Jesus is a teacher of theology making Tribute Money a painting of Theology. This painting is Classical because Jesus is a classic dating back before the Renaissance around the Greek and Roman times making this painting classical. The Dead Christ by Andrea Mantega it looks very realistic which means the artist used linear perspective, it's humanistic and classical because the body looks like it's referencing a greek god in that the body is muscular, and he is beautiful and good looking. The Holy Trinity by Massacio is neoplatonic because of the mamento mori above the skeleton explaining the reality of death and how there is a better world in heaven. It's classical because of the arch above Jesus referencing Greek architecture and also the architecture around the skeleton is classical. It's also humanistic because Jesus body also is a reminder of the Greek sculptures displaying a beautiful well proportioned body. The artist shows linear perspective with the elliptical shape oval above God's head aligned with the top of the arch showing linear perspective also when the viewer is standing below the painting seems to draw the viewer's attention upward in a triangle shape toward Jesus and his father above and behind him an illusionist quality with also a theological message.