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di Ser Giovanni di Simone Guidi Cassai called Masaccio is ranked the greatest
master of the Early Italian Renaissance painting.
Little is known about his training. Decisive to his development were the
great Florentine sculptors Donatello and Nanni di Banco, the paintings
of Giotto, to whom he was a true
heir, and the early works of Brunelleschi. In 1422, Masaccio was appointed
master of the Florentine Guild. From 1424, he worked with his older colleague
on the decoration of the Brancacci Chapel, which
was dedicated to St. Peter. Masaccio, applying the laws of perspective,
achieved a considerable optical illusion of depth in the painting of architectural
constructions and landscapes. The illustration of his new method is The
Holy Trinity with the Virgin, St. John and Two Donors (1426-28)
in Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Here for the first time three-dimensional
effect is achieved on a two-dimensional plane. Masaccio probably completed
this fresco at the age of 27, in the year when (as far as we know) he died.
Who ordered this fresco and why is unclear. In other pictures of the Trinity,
God the Father is shown enthroned; save for Masaccio’s this is the only
known example in which He stands.
Masaccio was also able to portray figures out of doors so convincingly
that they appear to blur as they move away from us. Linear perspective
reproduces the effect of forms growing smaller in the distance. With his
new aerial perspective Masaccio pointed out that they also grow dimmer
and out of focus.
Some art historians believe that he launched the new style of Early Renaissance
practically single-handedly, he was only 21 years old at the time and he
died 6 years later, leaving to others to develop his discoveries.
Masaccio. by T. Znamerovskaya. Leningrad. 1975.
Early Renaissance in Italian Art. by V. Lazarev. Vol. 1. Moscow.
Monumental Painting of Italian Renaissance. by I. Smirnova.
Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary.
Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.
The Art of the Italian Renaissance. Architecture. Sculpture. Painting.
Drawing. Könemann. 1995.
Trinity (Masterpieces in Western Painting) by Rona Goffen (Editor).
Cambridge Univ Pr, 1998.
Cambridge Companion to Masaccio by Diane Cole Ahl. Cambridge
University Press, 2002.
Panel Paintings of Masolino and Masaccio: The Role of Technique
by Carl B Strehlke, Cecilia Frosinini. 5 Continents Editions, 2002.
and the Brancacci Chapel by Ornella Casazza. Riverside Book
& Masolino by Paul Joannides. Phaidon Press, 1994.
Lives of the Artists : Giotto, Masaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli,
Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian by Giorgio Vasari.
Dover Publications, 2005.
Masaccio: Saint Andrew and the Pisa Altarpiece by Eliot
W. Rowlands. J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003.
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