Painting of the Month- Piero Della Fancesca’s The Baptism of Christ 1415/20-92
Sometimes only be sketching from a painting can you truly appreciate the dynamic of the composition and this is certainly the case with the perfectly poised painting of Peiro della Francesca’s the Baptism of Christ. As I sat there sketching at the National Gallery’s talk & draw my brain went into overdrive. For I when I finished one section I would discover to my frustration that it didn’t align with the other section. It was like piecing together some complex inter-locking pattern. In this case the sums most certainly made up the whole. There is nothing superflous, every part is carefully considered. Indeed if you were to alter any section of the painting from the belt of the St. John to the curve of the river it would change the dynamic of the painting completely. So why isn’t this perfectly balanced composition at once so apparent? The sense of stillness overcomes the mathimatical precision and we enter as Michael Levey puts it a “fouth dimension outside of time” Indeed so deeply were we all absorbed in grabbling with the complexities of this painting it was as if time were suspended.