Olga's Gallery

Antonello da Messina Biography

Born c. 1430 in Messina, the painter Antonello for a long time was famed for having introduced oil painting to the Italian art. “Once this new secret that Antonello had brought from Flanders into the city of Milan had been understood, Antonello was admired and cherished by those magnificent noblemen for as long as he lived,” wrote Giorgio Vasari. Alexander Rauch in The Art of the Italian Renaissance

states, however, that Antonello da Messina did not, as Vasari reports, go to Flanders and there become ‘a friend of Johannes’ (i.e.

Jan van Eyck), and then return to Italy to share the secret. “It is much more likely that he is in fact identical with one Antonello di Sicilia, who, at the beginning of 1456 in Milan, was in contact with Netherlandish painter Petrus Christus, from whom he adopted the new method of painting.” Antonello da Messina was trained in the cosmopolitan environment of Naples of the 1450s, where, which is more probable, he encountered Flemish art. From his earliest work, Antonello combined Flemish attention to detail with an Italian sense of geometric space.

The high point of his career was his stay in Venice between 1474-76, where he introduced Netherlandish painting and produced works of enormous power, such as his extraordinary St. Sebastian. Antonello was one of the best portrait painters of the 15th century. His sitters are turned three-quarters on, and their faces wear vivid psychological expressions.


Antonello da Messina. Old Italian Masters. by V. Lazarev. Moscow. 1972. (in Russian)

The Rescued Masterpieces. Publishing House The Soviet Painter. Moscow. 1977. (In Russian)

Antonello da Messina and his Portraits. by V.N. Graszhenko. Moscow. 1981. (in Russian)

Monumental Painting of Italian Renaissance. by I. Smirnova. Moscow. 1987. (in Russian)

The Art of the Italian Renaissance. Architecture. Sculpture. Painting. Drawing. Könemann. 1995.

Italian Painting. Artists and Their Masterpieces Throughout the Ages. Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft.1998.

The Lives of the Artistsby Giorgio Vasari. Peter Smith Publisher, 1993.

Painting of Europe. XIII-XX centuries. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow. Iskusstvo. 1999.

Antonello da Messina: Sicily's Renaissance Master by Gioacchino Barbera. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006.