In Piero's geometric plan, the picture is divided horizontally into three equal parts. The angel and the tent roof make up the top third. The lit opening of the tent makes the central part; and the Emperor and his attendants dominate the lower third. The tent top forms a large triangle, repeated below in the central section by that of the tent opening. Because of the strong vertical, running from the point of the tent, down the tent pole towards the foot of the seated attendant, we can infer an inverted triangle in the lower section, although it is not quite so obvious.
Colour can add greatly to the enhancement of many artistic effects - particularly that of geometry. Correct and careful handling of colour and tone shapes can help dramatically in presenting convincing images.
For mastery of the geometry of composition, Piero della Francesca proved himself the great mathematician. He invariably divided up his works in a well-regulated geometric fashion, and he was just as much a master of colour. In this fresco, Constantine's Dream (c. 1457-58), all the light is on the sleeping emperor and his attendant, surrounded by the warm colours of the tent and the royal bedclothes. The guards in semi-shadow in the foreground seem unaware that the beautiful glow signifies angelic intrusion into the dream of Constantine the Great.
The picture conforms to a strong geometric design overall. There are two subsidiary thrusts of energy through the picture: a line going from the angel's arm to the chest of the sleeping Emperor; and another line from the vertical spear of the left-hand guard to the centre of the angel above.
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