Sacred Geometry: The basic units of Roman architecture, the square and circle are emulated as representations of heaven and earth.
In this third and final instalment of BBC Two's Renaissance Revolution, Matthew Collings returns to Italy to look at the Piero della Francesca's The Baptism of Christ(1448-1450).
Of particular interest in this episode was Collings' exploration of the techniques used in Tempera painting and the application of perspective, which Piero della Francesca was one of the earliest exponents of.
Piero della Francesca(1415-1492) represents an interesting time in Italian art - a period immediately before the High Renaissance, still steeped in the idioms of Medieval painting. A wonderful example is the St. Antony altarpiece painted for a church in Perugia. The top and bottom panels demonstrate a more modern style, with the middle panel an homage to the Eastern and Medieval style of altarpiece painting.
This is quite noteworthy, as a great deal of della Francesca's work was done for patrons wishing to reconcile the Eastern and Western Churches. Historically, this period of time is significant, as it was preceding the Fall of Constantinople to Ottoman Turks in 1453. Hence, works such as the The Baptism of Christ represent a plea for the Churches to unite against the threat of the Eastern Invaders.
I also really enjoyed seeing some of his other pieces in this work, including the mathematically precise yet enigmatic The Flagellation of Christ(c.1455-1460)
Edit: BBC iPlayer is no longer showing this program, nor it is it available for purchase from their store. Here is an excerpt.