The number of years of a person’s life does not necessarily indicate the magnitude of the impact he or she will leave on society. Individuals like Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), Princess Diana of Wales (1961-1997), and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) are proof of this statement. Like these world-changers, Italian artist Masaccio (1401-1428) made a profound mark on history, despite the shortness of his life.
Masaccio was born on December 21, 1401, about 40 miles from Florence, Italy. Initially named Tommaso di Giovanni di Simone Cassai, the artist became known simply as “Masaccio” (translated as “Big Tom” or “Clumsy Tom”) because of his careless, heedless, amicable nature. (As a result of his artistic bent, Masaccio cared very little for his appearance or for the affairs of society.)
Giovanni, Masaccio’s brother, was also an artist. During the Renaissance, the skill of painting was usually passed down through a family’s paternal line. Considering the fact that Masaccio’s father, a notary, was not known to be artistic, it is a point of interest that both Masaccio and his brother were recognized artists. Some speculate that Masaccio’s paternal grandfather was responsible for teaching the young artist and his brother painting skills, as he was a chest maker whose craft involved painting. While it’s not certain, it is possible that Masaccio derived his natural talent and technical artistic skills from his grandfather.
Practically nothing is known about the first 21 years of Masaccio’s life. However, historians agree that he entered a painting guild at age 21. This indicates that he likely underwent a lengthy art apprenticeship sometime during the later time of his life. It was in this timeframe that his artwork began garnering attention and fame.
Masaccio managed to make an incredible impact on Italy, and on the art world, during the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance. This era produced some of the most influential painters history recognizes; among them are Alberti, Donatello, and Brunelleschi. Masaccio is recognized at the Quattrocento period’s first great painter. It is amazing to consider that in “only six years, Masaccio radically transformed Florentine painting. His art eventually helped create many of the major conceptual and stylistic foundations of Western painting (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/367676/Masaccio).”
There are several distinct aspects of Masaccio’s work that set him apart as an influential artist during a time in which artists were plentiful. First, Masaccio’s use of linear perspective was novel when he began employing the technique. Also, a technique called “vanishing point” was first used by Masaccio. Finally, rather than imitate the ornate Gothic style of painting that was popular during his lifetime, Masaccio favored a more naturalistic look.
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (c. 1424) and San Giovenale Triptych (c. 1422) are two of Masaccio’s earliest known works. Amazingly, the latter piece of art was only recently (in 1961) discovered in Masaccio’s hometown. Unfortunately, age compromised some of the structural integrity of the piece. Still, art historians can clearly observe Masaccio’s use of the techniques mentioned above. “Masaccio’s concern to suggest three-dimensionality through volumetric figures and foreshortened forms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masaccio)” is also apparent in San Giovenale Triptych. Some of Masaccio’s other well-known pieces include his frescoes painted for the Branacci Chapel, The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, The Tribute Money, and The Pisa Altarpiece.
Renaissance artist Masaccio died in late 1428; he was only 26.
Those who die young, yet make an indelible, positive impression on their communities, are sometimes grieved for hundreds of years by people who derive inspiration and hope from the lives they lived. Masaccio is just one example of this type of influential person. It is unarguable that Masaccio made an incredible impact on the art world, despite his short life.
However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of Masaccio‘s story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=ROM . Also, Segmation is proud to offer 21 digital Masaccio – Early Renaissance Painter patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.
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Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:
George Romney – Making Ideas Art
Franz Marc German Expressionist Painter
Jan Gossaert – A Great Flemish Painter of Antiquity”
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