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Masaccio


Contents
1. Introduction
2. Biography
3. Artistic work
4. Conclusion: Masaccio’s contribution to the development of art
5. Bibliography


Introduction
Tommaso Cassai was an extremely popular Italian painter who made a significant contribution in the development of Italian art and marked the progress of the Renaissance art in Italy. His works were characterized by implementation of innovative techniques which singled him out among the rest of his contemporaries working in traditional styles and using traditional techniques. Remarkably, the painter became widely known as Masaccio but not as Tommaso Cassai. At the same time, the nickname given to him fully corresponded not only to his personality and character but also to his work and, in a way, illustrated his significance to Italian art. In this respect, it should be said that Masaccio may be itepreted in different ways as ‘big’, ‘clumsy’, or ‘messy’ but it is true that despite his clumsiness he became a really big or even great artist of his epoch.
Biography
Naturally, Masaccio did not become a famous artist in a day, instead he had a long way to go to gain the public recognition and his life produced a profound impact on his creative work. Primarily, it is necessary to point out that Masaccio was born on December 21, 1401, in the Italian town of San Giovanni Valdarmo. His parents were not very rich people and, in actuality, had little relations to art and artistic work. It should be said that his father was a notary in San Giovanni Valdarmo but the boy practically did not know his father who had died in 1406 when Masaccio was only five years old. His mother was a daughter of innkeeper in the neighboring town. Remarkably that the family name of Masaccio came form the trade of his grandfather and granduncle, who were carpenters, notably cabinet makers that stands for ‘casse’ in Italian, therefore, the family name was cassai which really had a little to do with painting or art.
In such a situation, it seems to be quite strange that Masaccio became a painter but, to a significant extent, such a choice of the future occupation became possible due to the stable childhood of the boy and opportunities to focus on his favorite hobby, painting. At the same time, the comfortable childhood of the boy was basically guaranteed by the second husband, Tedesco, his mother remarried after the death of Masaccio’s biological father.
However, Tedesco died when the boy was about 16 and, thus, he had to start his own professional career. At this period of time, the family moved to Florence, where Masaccio actually started his creative work, though, it should be pointed out that information about this early period of his life is scarce. Nonetheless, it is known that in 1422 he joined one of the seven main craft’s guilds in Florence, and it was in this city that he received his nickname which made him known and popular not only at his epoch but also for centuries ahead, though, it was naturally not the nickname that made him popular but it was the works of artist that made his nickname well-recognized. Basically, the painter received such a bit unpleasant nickname because of his appearance, though his personal qualities were highly appreciated by his contemporaries and it is also worthy of mention that this nickname was also used by his colleagues simply to distinguish Masaccio from his collaborator, Masolino.
The following life of the painter was basically concentrated on work that was probably the major goal of his life, which, though, was quite short but very productive. The painter died at the end of 1428, at the age of 27, and it is worthy of mention that it is still argued that he was poisoned by a jealous painter ().
Artistic work
On analyzing the artistic work of Masaccio, it should be said that it was clearly distinguished from the works of other painters of that time. His work was characterized as innovative and, to a certain extent, it might be viewed as experimental. It is necessary to underline that there are actually a few works that have survived till the present days and are definitely defined as being created by Masaccio. Nonetheless, his real artistic heritage was substantially larger but, for the modern connoisseurs of art, it is basically known only from Vasari’s biography.
As for his first works, it should be said that one of the earliest ones are considered to be the Cascia Alterpiece, created in 1422, which pictures the Madonna enthroned with angels and saints, and a Virgin and Chile with Saint Anne, created about 1424. Specialists underline that even these early works are characterized by the high quality of performance (Vasari 154), though it is worthy of mention that the latter was created in a collaboration with Mosalino who was more famous artist at the epoch of the creation of that painting. In fact, it was the first but not the last collaboration of two great artists.
In this respect, it is worthy of mention that Vasari underlines that the cooperation of two artists continued as they traveled throughout Italy. At the same time, he underlines that Masacccio managed to reject the influences of traditional Gothic and Byzantine style that may be seen in his altarpiece for the Carmelite Church in Pisa (Vasari 184).
At the same time, it is possible to trace the influence of ancient artists and ancient Greek and Roman style on the work of Masaccio which, actually, were also attributed to the consequences of the painters trip throughout Italy. This influence could be observed in Sagra, a fresco commissioned for the consecration ceremony of the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence, which, unfortunately, was lost when the church’s cloister was rebuilt at the end of the 16th century.
However, his most famous works were created later. Among these works may be named the “Resurrection of the son of Theophilus”, the famous fresco which the artist painted as a pavement in perspective, framed by large buildings to obtain the depth of field and three-dimensional space in which the figures are placed proportionate to their surrounding that was quite a revolutionary technique for that epoch. At least, it was a really innovative work which brought the recognition of the artist’s genius.
Another outstanding work of the artist was the “Expulsion from the Garden of Eden created at the end of his life in `426-1427. Masaccio depicted distressed Adam and Eve nude that was also quite unusual at the epoch and, what is more, this work produced a profound impact on other artists, including Michelangelo. Not less, innovative was “The Tribute Money”, in which the painter depicted Jesus and the Apostles as neo-classical archetypes.
Conclusion: Masaccio’s contribution in the development of art
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Masaccio produced a profound impact on the development of art of his epoch. His creative work affected numerous artists that gained world recognition due to the borrowing the experience from Masaccio. Hs innovative technique and views on perspective were really important to the development of art contributing to its higher realism, while his reference to classical works of ancient Greek and Roman artists make it possible to speak about the historical correlation between the art of different epochs which Masaccio attempted to realize in his works. In fact, Masaccio was the first great artist of the Renaissance and he was the first who used scientific perspective in his painting and moved from traditional Gothic and Byzantine style a new more naturalistic and realistic one.

Bibliography:
1. Burckhardt, J. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. New York: Random House, 2001.
2. Vasari, G. The Lives of the Artists. New York: Routledge, 1998.


 

 
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