On Art

The Healing of the Cripple and the Raising of Tabitha, by Tommaso Masolino da Panicale

This fresco is part of a 15th-century cycle of works related to the disciple Peter that was created by Tommaso Masolino (1383–1447) and Tommaso Massacio for the Brancacci Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence. Masolino’s fresco depicts two scenes from the book of Acts. On the left, Peter and John encounter a beggar unable to walk as they are about to enter the temple (Acts 3). The scene portrays the moment just before Peter heals the man.  The right half of the fresco depicts the raising of Tabitha, a woman devoted to acts of charity (Acts 9). The text locates the scene in an upper room, but the artist places the event on the same level as the accompanying scene, allowing him to use one-point linear perspective with a central vanishing point. The cityscape is Florentine. The miracle is in process: Peter extends his hand in a blessing gesture, and Tabitha sits up in bed. Behind Tabitha kneel two of the widows with whom she had made tunics and garments.