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Masaccio
Masaccio
(Italian: [maˈzattʃo]; December 21, 1401 – summer 1428), born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, was a Florentine artist who is regarded as the first great Italian painter of the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance. According to Vasari, Masaccio
Masaccio
was the best painter of his generation because of his skill at imitating nature, recreating lifelike figures and movements as well as a convincing sense of three-dimensionality.[1] Masaccio
Masaccio
died at twenty-six and little is known about the exact circumstances of his death.[2] The name Masaccio
Masaccio
is a humorous version of Maso (short for Tommaso), meaning "clumsy" or "messy" Tom. The name may have been created to distinguish him from his principal collaborator, also called Maso, who came to be known as Masolino
Masolino
("little/delicate Tom"). Despite his brief career, he had a profound influence on other artists. He was one of the first to use linear perspective in his painting, employing techniques such as vanishing point in art for the first time. He moved away from the International Gothic
International Gothic
style and elaborate ornamentation of artists like Gentile da Fabriano
Gentile da Fabriano
to a more naturalistic mode that employed perspective and chiaroscuro for greater realism.

Contents

1 Early life 2 First works 3 Maturity 4 Brancacci Chapel

4.1 Works of the chapel

5 Pisa
Pisa
Altarpiece 6 Holy Trinity 7 Other paintings 8 Legacy 9 Main works 10 See also 11 References and sources 12 External links

Early life[edit] Masaccio
Masaccio
was born to Giovanni di Simone Cassai and Jacopa di Martinozzo in Castel San Giovanni di Altura, now San Giovanni Valdarno (today part of the province of Arezzo, Tuscany).[3] His father was a notary and his mother the daughter of an innkeeper of Barberino di Mugello, a town a few miles north of Florence. His family name, Cassai, comes from the trade of his paternal grandfather Simone and granduncle Lorenzo, who were carpenters/cabinet makers (casse, hence cassai). Masaccio's father died in 1406, when he was only five; later that same year a brother was born, named Giovanni (1406–1486) after his father. He also was to become a painter, with the nickname of lo Scheggia meaning "the splinter."[4] In 1412 Monna Jacopa married an elderly apothecary, Tedesco di maestro Feo, who already had several daughters, one of whom grew up to marry the only other documented painter from Castel San Giovanni, Mariotto di Cristofano (1393–1457). There is no evidence for Masaccio's artistic education,[5] however Renaissance
Renaissance
painters traditionally began an apprenticeship with an established master around the age of 12. Masaccio
Masaccio
would likely have had to move to Florence
Florence
to receive his training, but he was not documented in the city until he joined the painters guild (the Arte de' Medici
Medici
e Speziali) as an independent master on January 7, 1422, signing as "Masus S. Johannis Simonis pictor populi S. Nicholae de Florentia." First works[edit] The first works attributed to Masaccio
Masaccio
are the San Giovenale Triptych (1422), now in the Museum of Cascia di Reggello near Florence, and the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
(Sant'Anna Metterza) (c. 1424) at the Uffizi.

San Giovenale Triptych
San Giovenale Triptych
(1422)

The San Giovenale altarpiece was discovered in 1961 in the church of San Giovenale at Cascia di Reggello, very close to Masaccio's hometown. It depicts the Virgin and Child with angels in the central panel, Sts. Bartholomew and Blaise on the left panel, and Sts. Juvenal (i.e. San Giovenale) and Anthony Abbot in the right panel. The painting has lost much of its original framing, and its surface is badly abraded.[6] Nevertheless, Masaccio's concern to suggest three-dimensionality through volumetric figures and foreshortened forms is apparent, and stands as a revival of Giotto's approach, rather than a continuation of contemporary trends.

Masolino
Masolino
& Masaccio, Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
(c. 1424), Uffizi

The second work was perhaps Masaccio's first collaboration with the older and already-renowned artist, Masolino
Masolino
da Panicale (1383/4-c. 1436). The circumstances of the 2 artists' collaboration are unclear; since Masolino
Masolino
was considerably older, it seems likely that he brought Masaccio
Masaccio
under his wing, but the division of hands in the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne is so marked that it is hard to see the older artist as the controlling figure in this commission.[7] Masolino
Masolino
is believed to have painted the figure of St. Anne and the angels that hold the cloth of honor behind her, while Masaccio
Masaccio
painted the more important Virgin and Child on their throne. Masolino's figures are delicate, graceful and somewhat flat, while Masaccio's are solid and hefty. Maturity[edit] In Florence, Masaccio
Masaccio
could study the works of Giotto and become friends with Brunelleschi
Brunelleschi
and Donatello. According to Vasari, at their prompting in 1423 Masaccio
Masaccio
travelled to Rome
Rome
with Masolino: from that point he was freed of all Gothic and Byzantine influence, as seen in his altarpiece for the Carmelite Church in Pisa. The traces of influences from ancient Roman and Greek art that are present in some of Masaccio's works presumably originated from this trip: they should also have been present in a lost Sagra, (today known through some drawings, including one by Michelangelo), a fresco commissioned for the consecration ceremony of the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence
Florence
(April 19, 1422). It was destroyed when the church's cloister was rebuilt at the end of the 16th century.

The Tribute Money, fresco in the Brancacci Chapel
Brancacci Chapel
in Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence

Brancacci Chapel[edit] In 1424, the "duo preciso e noto" ("well and known duo") of Masaccio and Masolino
Masolino
was commissioned by the powerful and wealthy Felice Brancacci to execute a cycle of frescoes for the Brancacci Chapel
Brancacci Chapel
in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence. With the two artists probably working simultaneously, the painting began around 1425, but for unknown reasons the chapel was left unfinished, and was completed by Filippino Lippi
Filippino Lippi
in the 1480s. The iconography of the fresco decoration is somewhat unusual; while the majority of the frescoes represent the life of St. Peter, two scenes, on either side of the threshold of the chapel space, depict the temptation and expulsion of Adam and Eve. As a whole the frescoes represent human sin and its redemption through the actions of Peter, the first pope.[8] The style of Masaccio's scenes shows the influence of Giotto especially. Figures are large, heavy, and solid; emotions are expressed through faces and gestures; and there is a strong impression of naturalism throughout the paintings. Unlike Giotto, however, Masaccio
Masaccio
uses linear and atmospheric perspective, directional light, and chiaroscuro, which is the representation of form through light and color without outlines. As a result, his frescoes are even more convincingly lifelike than those of his trecento predecessor. Works of the chapel[edit]

When it was cleaned in the 1980s, Masaccio's fresco of The Expulsion (1426–1427) lost the added fig leaves.

The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, depicts a distressed Adam and Eve, chased from the garden by a threatening angel. Adam covers his entire face to express his shame, while Eve's shame requires her to cover certain areas of her body. The fresco had a huge influence on Michelangelo
Michelangelo
and his work. Another major work is The Tribute Money in which Jesus
Jesus
and the Apostles are depicted as neo-classical archetypes. Scholars have often noted that the shadows of the figures all fall away from the chapel window, as if the figures are lit by it; this is an added stroke of verisimilitude and further tribute to Masaccio's innovative genius. In the Resurrection of the Son of Theophilus, he painted a pavement in perspective, framed by large buildings to obtain a three-dimensional space in which the figures are placed proportionate to their surroundings. In this he was a pioneer in applying the newly discovered rules of perspective. On September 1425 Masolino
Masolino
left the work and went to Hungary. It is not known if this was because of money quarrels with Felice or an artistic divergence with Masaccio. It has also been supposed that Masolino
Masolino
planned this trip from the very beginning, and needed a close collaborator who could continue the work after his departure. But Masaccio
Masaccio
left the frescoes unfinished in 1426 in order to respond to other commissions, probably coming from the same patron. However, it has also been suggested that the declining finances of Felice Brancacci were insufficient to pay for any further work, so the painter sought work elsewhere.

Resurrection of the Son of Theophilus

Masaccio
Masaccio
returned in 1427 to work again in the Carmine, beginning the Resurrection of the Son of Theophilus, but apparently left it, too, unfinished, though it has also been suggested that the painting was severely damaged later in the century because it contained portraits of the Brancacci family, at that time excoriated as enemies of the Medici.[9] This painting was either restored or completed more than fifty years later by Filippino Lippi. Some of the scenes completed by Masaccio
Masaccio
and Masolino
Masolino
were lost in a fire in 1771; we know about them only through Vasari's biography. The surviving parts were extensively blackened by smoke. In the twentieth century, the removal of marble slabs covering two areas of the paintings revealed the original appearance of the work.[10] Pisa
Pisa
Altarpiece[edit] On February 19, 1426 Masaccio
Masaccio
was commissioned by Giuliano di Colino degli Scarsi da San Giusto, for the sum of 80 florins, to paint a major altarpiece, the Pisa
Pisa
Altarpiece, for his chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Pisa. The work was dismantled and dispersed in the 18th century, and only eleven of about twenty original panels have been rediscovered in various collections around the world.[11] The central panel of the altarpiece (The Madonna and Child) is now in the National Gallery, London. Although it is very damaged, the work features a sculptural and human Madonna as well as a convincing perspectival depiction of her throne. Masaccio
Masaccio
probably worked on it entirely in Pisa, shuttling back and forth to Florence, where he was still working on the Brancacci Chapel. In these years, Donatello
Donatello
was also working in Pisa
Pisa
at a monument for Cardinal Rinaldo Brancacci, to be sent to Naples. It is suggested that Masaccio's first ventures in plasticity and perspective were based on Donatello's sculpture, before he could study Brunelleschi's more scientific approach to perspective. Holy Trinity[edit]

Holy Trinity, in full: "Trinity with the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist, and Donors" (c. 1427) - Fresco, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

Around 1427 Masaccio
Masaccio
won a prestigious commission to produce a Holy Trinity for the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella
Santa Maria Novella
in Florence. No contemporary documents record the patron of the fresco, but recently references to ownership of a tomb at the foot of the fresco have been found in the records of the Berti family of the Santa Maria Novella Quarter of Florence; this working-class family expressed a long-standing devotion to the Trinity, and may well have commissioned Masaccio's painting.[12] Probably it is the male patron who is represented to the left of the Virgin in the painting, while his wife is right of St. John the Evangelist. The fresco, considered by many to be Masaccio's masterwork, is the earliest surviving painting to use systematic linear perspective, possibly devised by Masaccio
Masaccio
with the assistance of Brunelleschi. According to the reconstruction[13] Masaccio
Masaccio
started by producing a rough drawing of the composition and perspective lines on the wall. The drawing was covered with fresh plaster for making the fresco. To ensure the precise transfer of the perspective lines from the sketch to the plaster, Masaccio
Masaccio
inserted a nail in at the vanishing point under the base of the cross and attached strings to it, which he pressed in (or carved into) the plaster. The marks of the preparatory works are still visible. The sacred figures and the donors are represented above an image of a skeleton lying on a sarcophagus. An inscription seemingly carved into the wall above the skeleton reads: "Io fui gia quel che voi siete e quel ch'io sono voi anco sarete" (I once was what now you are and what I am, you shall yet be). This skeleton is at once a reference to Adam, whose sin brought humans to death and a reminder to viewers that their time on earth is transitory. It is only through faith in the Trinity, the fresco suggests, that one overcomes this death.[14] The Holy Spirit is seen in the form of a dove, above Jesus.[15] The combination of trinity, death and decay "can be interpreted as a transposition of the Golgotha chapel"[13] in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
in Jerusalem. Other paintings[edit] Masaccio
Masaccio
produced two other works, a Nativity and an Annunciation, now lost, before leaving for Rome, where his companion Masolino
Masolino
was frescoing a chapel with scenes from the life of St. Catherine in the Basilica di San Clemente. It has never been confirmed that Masaccio collaborated on that work, even though it is possible that he contributed to Masolino's polyptych for the altar of Santa Maria Maggiore with his panel portraying St. Jerome and St. John the Baptist, now in the National Gallery of London. Masaccio
Masaccio
died at the end of 1428. According to a legend, he was poisoned by a jealous rival painter.[16] Only four frescoes undoubtedly from Masaccio's hand still exist today, although many other works have been at least partially attributed to him. Others are believed to have been destroyed. Legacy[edit] Masaccio
Masaccio
profoundly influenced the art of painting in the Renaissance. According to Vasari, all "most celebrated" Florentine "sculptors and painters" studied his frescoes extensively in order to "learn the precepts and rules for painting well." He transformed the direction of Italian painting, moving it away from the idealizations of Gothic art, and, for the first time, presenting it as part of a more profound, natural, and humanist world. Moreover, Masaccio
Masaccio
influenced a great many artists both while he was alive and posthumously. His influence is particularly notable in the works of Florentine minor masters, such as Andrea di Giusto, Giovanni dal Ponte, and others who attempted to replicate his glowing, lifelike forms. Main works[edit]

Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
with pseudo-Arabic halo, by Masaccio
Masaccio
(1426).[17]

San Giovenale Triptych
San Giovenale Triptych
(1422) tempera on panel, 108 x 153 cm, Cascia di Reggello Madonna with Child (1424) - tempera on panel, 24 x 18 cm, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
(1424–1425) - tempera on panel, 175 x 103 cm, Uffizi, Florence The Tribute Money (1424–1428) - fresco, 247 x 597 cm, Brancacci Chapel, Florence Holy Trinity (1425–1428) - fresco, 667 x 317 cm, Santa Maria Novella, Florence Portrait of a Young Man (1425) - wood, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Madonna with Child and Angel (1426) - oil on table, National Gallery, London Crucifixion (c. 1426) - tempera on panel, 83 x 63 cm, Museo di Capodimonte, Naples St. Paul (1426) - tempera on panel, 51 x 30 cm, Museo Nazionale, Pisa St. Jerome and St. John the Baptist (c. 1426-1428) panel, 114 x 55 cm, National Gallery, London Nativity ( Berlin
Berlin
Tondo) (1427–1428) - tempera on wood, diameter 56 cm, Staatliche Museen, Berlin St Andrew - oil on table, 51 x 31 cm, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

See also[edit]

Masaccio's chronological list of main paintings History of painting Western painting

References and sources[edit]

References

^ Giorgio Vasari, Le Vite de' piu eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori, ed. Gaetano Milanesi, Florence, 1906, II, 287-288. ^ The Guardian, Masaccio, the old master who died young ^ John T. Spike, Masaccio, New York: 1996, 21-64, and Diane Cole Ahl, The Cambridge Companion to Masaccio, Cambridge, 2002, 3-5. ^ On Giovanni's career, see Luciano Bellosi and Margaret Haines, Lo Scheggia, Florence, 1999. ^ Vasari (II, 295) implies that Masolino
Masolino
was Masaccio's teacher, but the earliest known work by Masaccio
Masaccio
(the San Giovenale Triptych) is painted in a style so different from Masolino's approach that it is hard to tie the two together (Luciano Berti, " Masaccio
Masaccio
1422," Commentari 12 (1961) 84-107. Scholars cannot agree on any teacher for the young artist, though several names (Mariotto di Cristofano, Bicci di Lorenzo, Niccolo di ser Lapo) have been put forward. Recently scholars have also suggested that he may have trained as a manuscript illuminator. Roberto Bellucci and Cecilia Frosinini, "Masaccio: Technique in Context," in The Cambridge Companion to Masaccio, ed. Diane Cole Ahl, Cambridge, 2002, 105-122. ^ Roberto Bellucci and Cecilia Frosinini, "The San Giovenale Altarpiece," in The Panel Paintings of Masolino
Masolino
and Masaccio, ed. Carl Brandon Strehlke, Milan, 2002, 69-79; Dillian Gordon, "The Altarpieces of Masaccio," in The Cambridge Companion to Masaccio, ed. Diane Cole Ahl, Cambridge, 2002, 124-126. ^ Roberto Longhi, "Fatti di Masolino
Masolino
e di Masaccio," Critica d'arte 25-6 (1940) 145-191. ^ Umberto Baldini and Ornella Casazza, The Brancacci Chapel, New York, 1990; Diane Cole Ahl, "The Brancacci Chapel," in The Cambridge Companion to Masaccio, ed. Diane Cole Ahl, Cambridge, 2002, 138-157. ^ Casazza, Ornella. 1990. Masaccio
Masaccio
and the Brancacci Chapel. Antella, Firenze, Italy: Scala. p. 46. OCLC 25093965 ^ Casazza, Ornella. 1990. Masaccio
Masaccio
and the Brancacci Chapel. Antella, Firenze, Italy: Scala. p. 15. OCLC 25093965 ^ Jill Dunkerton and Dillian Gordon, "The Pisa
Pisa
Altarpiece", in The Panel Paintings of Masolino
Masolino
and Masaccio: The Role of Technique, ed. Carl Brandon Strehlke, Milan, 2002, 89-109. ^ Rita Maria Comanducci, "'L'altare Nostro de la Trinità': Masaccio's Trinity and the Berti Family," The Burlington Magazine, 145 (2003) 14-21. Most scholars had thought that the Lenzi family commissioned the fresco: Ugo Procacci, "Nuove testimonianze su Masaccio," Commentari, 27 (1976) 233-4; Rona Goffen, Masaccio's "Trinity," Cambridge, 1998; Timothy Verdon, "Masaccio's Trinity," in The Cambridge Companion to Masaccio, ed. Diane Cole Ahl, Cambridge, 2002, 158-160. ^ a b B. Deimling, Early Renaissance
Renaissance
Art in Florence
Florence
and Central Italy, in R. Tolman (ed.), The Art of Italian Renaissance, Konemann, 1995, p. 244-246 ^ Alessandro Cortesi, "Una lettura teologica," in La Trinità di Masaccio: il restauro dell'anno duemila, ed. Cristina Danti, Florence, 2002, 49-56; Verdon, 158-161. ^ Cothren, Marilyn Stokstad Michael W. (2010). Art History Portable, Book 4 14th-17th Century Art (4th ed., Portable ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. ISBN 0205790941.  ^ "Tommaso Cassai Masaccio
Masaccio
Biography". Artble. Retrieved 2017-02-14.  ^ Mack, p.66

Sources

Mack, Rosamond E. Bazaar to Piazza: Islamic Trade and Italian Art, 1300-1600, University of California Press, 2001 ISBN 0-520-22131-1

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Masaccio.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
article Masaccio.

Masaccio
Masaccio
Biography and Photo A Biography Photos of five frescoes attributed to Masaccio Masaccio
Masaccio
at Panopticon Virtual Art Gallery Metropolitan Museum of Art DVD about perspective and Masaccio

v t e

Masaccio

Paintings

Brancacci Chapel Crucifixion Desco da parto Expulsion from the Garden of Eden Holy Trinity Madonna and Child Portrait of a Young Man Saint Paul San Giovenale Triptych The Tribute Money Virgin and Child with Saint Anne

Related

List of major paintings by Masaccio

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 7368513 LCCN: n79006973 ISNI: 0000 0001 2119 1860 GND: 118578618 SELIBR: 244954 SUDOC: 027407160 BNF: cb11945583s (data) ULAN: 500026649 NLA: 35332383 NDL: 00449045 NKC: xx0011777 BNE: XX1114798 RKD: 53

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