Masaccio

, or Tomaso Da San Giovanni, an eminent artist, was born at St. Giovanni di Valdarno, in 1401, and was the disciple of Masolino da Panicale; but he proved as much superior to his master, as his master was superior to all his contemporaries: and is accounted the principal artist of the second or middle age of modern painting, from its revival under Cimabue. His genius was very extensive, his invention ready, and his manner of design had unusual truth and elegance. He considered painting as the art of representing nature with truth, by the aid of design and colouring: and therefore he made nature his most constant study, till he excelled in a perfect imitation of it. He is accounted the first who, from judicious observations, removed the difficulties that impeded the study and the knowledge of the art, by setting the artists an example in his own works, of that beauty which arises from a proper and agreeable choice of attitudes and motions, and likewise from such a spirit, boldness, and relief, as appears truly just and natural. He was the first among the painters who studied to give the draperies of his figures more dignity, by omitting the multitude of small folds, so customarily practised by the preceding artists, and by designing them with greater breadth and fulness. He was also the first who endeavoured to adapt the colour of his draperies to the tint of his carnations, so as to make the one harmonize with the other. He was uncommonly ^killed in perspective, which he had learned from P. Brujielleschi. His works procured him universal approbation: | but the very same merit which promoted his fame, excited envy; and he died, to the regret of every lover of the art, not without strong suspicions of having been poisoned. Most writers agree that this event happened in 1443, but Sandrart fixes his death in 1446. Fuseli says, “Masaccio was a genius, and the head of an epoch in the art. He may be considered as the precursor of Raphael, who imitated his principles, and sometimes transcribed his figures. He had seen what could be seen of the antique, at his time at Rome: but his most perfect work are the frescoes of S, Pietro al Carmine at Florence; where vigour of conception, truth and vivacity of expression, correctness of design, and breadth of manner, are supported by truth and surprising harmony of colour.1

1

Pilkington. Rpynolds’s Woiks. Rees’s Cyclopædia, an elaborate article. Rtdlart’s Academic ties Science?.