His Most Famous Painting (The Baptism of Christ) – Piero Della Francesca

‘Early Italian Renaissance’ painter, a mathematician, and a geometer, Piero Della Francesca (1415 – October 12, 1492) was one of the greatest painters in the twentieth century. His disciplined, yet serene outlook towards life influenced his art too. Piero was well known for many of his works.

Presently housed in the National Gallery, London, his most famous painting was “The Baptism of Christ,” created during 1448-50. It was commissioned for the Priory of San Giovanni in Sansepolcro, as a part of a triptych. Though throughout his career, Francesca worked in various towns, he however always retained his link with his hometown, Sansepolcro, Italy, which is evident even in the painting “The Baptism of Christ,” as its background landscape.

Piero’s this painting, measuring 66″ × 46″, is based on a Biblical theme. As it dates back to his early career, the artwork shares a strong similarity with the ‘Light Painting’ works of his master Domenico Veneziano. Piero Della’s “The Baptism of Christ” portrays Christ as a sturdy Tuscan farmer, being baptized in the River Jordan by his cousin John the Baptist. His hands are folded. A dove surmounts Christ’s head, while another covert is shown undressing to get ready for his turn.

The angels on the left, shown dressed differently in Oriental fashion, are holding each other’s hands. Heavily ‘Symbolist’ in its essence, the painting takes a ‘Naturalist’ approach. In accordance, the number, that is three, of angels, ‘Symbolizes’ the Holy Trinity, the blue sky God, the tree represents Christ, while the dove in the rich blue sky, the Holy Spirit. Christ, the bird, and John’s hand seem to form an axis, which divides the painting into two symmetrical parts. To achieve further symmetry, the clouds in sky are shaped to match that of the flying dove. The tree on the left of Francesca’s “The Baptism of Christ” gives a second division to the painting, as per the ‘Golden Ratio.’

Piero Francesca was known for his attention towards geometry, which is seen in this oil on tempera painting too. John’s arms and legs form two angles of equal size. Piero Della Francesca was a mathematical theorist, which shows influence in his “The Baptism of Christ.” His paintings were very powerful, which triggered reactions from many critics and admirers. The artist gives the art a touch of emotion and the painting touches the heart of its admirers as well as its critics. The artist would give his works a touch of emotion with his creativity touching every innovative height possible, coupled with constructive mathematical concepts.

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