“Peter Baptism of the Neophytes”, Masaccio – description

Description of the picture:

Baptism of the Neophytes – Masaccio. 1427. The fresco.
This mural is one of those that were made by the master for the famous chapel of Brancacci. Its plot is borrowed from one of the books of the Bible – The Acts of the Apostles. It uses moments that tell about the life of St. Peter. The plot tells of an episode of the baptism of neophytes, in other words, new believing Christians, which was conducted by the saint.

Around the fresco for many centuries, not only religious, but also art criticism has been flaring up. From the very beginning, church representatives were outraged by the realism in depicting the bodies of people, which contradicted the then popular Gothic style, which greeted light ethereal bodies, elongated silhouettes wrapped in draperies. The artist has human bodies – alive, tangible, very “carnal” for church painting. Art historians still argue about the complete belonging of the frescoes of the brush of the 1st master, but this does not diminish its artistic merits.

It depicts a group of people gathered at a reservoir for a traditional baptismal ceremony. In the era of early Christianity, natural sources were used for this, and the artist correctly reflected this tendency. The background of the picture is represented by pikoobraznye greenish mountains, in the traditional manner for the master, almost devoid of small details. A pile of painted rocks gives a rather static image special dynamics and expressiveness.

In the foreground is a group of people who came to the ceremony. They wear abstract robes, which may well be attributed both to the era of St. Peter and to the time of the life of the master himself. A man kneeling in the water and bowing his head in a prayer position, receives baptism from the hands of St. Peter. Many connoisseurs of art admire the image of the second naked young man. He clearly froze, waiting in line in one loincloth. His posture is so expressive that it distracts attention from the rest of the images of the mural.

The plot is complemented and developed by a man undressing in the crowd and preparing to continue the baptismal ceremony. The phased sequence of actions, which is reflected in the plot, gives it activity and prevents one-sided, “planar” perception of the fresco. This creates a kind of temporary chain linking past events with present and future.

The rich and varied colors, craftsmanship in the performance of human figures and draperies, a special style and the ability to convey feelings, made the frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel a world masterpiece."

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