The Economics of Salvation

A hat tip to colleague David Parr for this piece on the Economics of Salvation. David was awarded the Margaret Myers Teaching Fellowship in 2011 and has just returned from studying the history of Renaissance art in the very city in which it had been created – Florence. On his blog entry for Thursday 5th May he discusses the Economics of Salvation. Here is a piece from it.

Then today I came across a wonderful term, the Economics of Salvation. It was used in connection with a discussion by Dale Kent regarding the obligation of charity observed by wealthy citizens in Renaissance Florence in an essay, The Brancacci Chapel Viewed in the Context of Florence’s Culture of Artistic Patronage. Professor Kent identifies the unusual prevalence throughout the fresco cycle of widows, orphans, cripples and the poor amongst those wealthier citizens of the San Frediano district painted by Masaccio and Masolino in the Brancacci Chapel. As the chapel is in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine pictured above, here was an unexpected fusion of art and real life.

In this detail of the Healing of the Cripple by Masolino, the extended gestures of St Peter’s and the cripple’s empty palms are dramatic focal points of the narrative. Two well-dressed young men stroll through the piazza chatting, as in the distance, a wealthy man enters his palazzo having passed an orphaned child and a widow on the street, pointing up the social differences…

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