Antonio, Da Messina

, so called because he was of that city, was also named Antonello. He was born in 1426, and died in 1475. He was the first of the Italians who painted in oil. Having seen at Naples a picture which king Alfonso had just received from Flanders, he was so struck with the liveliness, force, and softness of the colours, that he quitted his business to go and find out John Van Eyck, who he had been told was the painter of it. The consequences of this journey were, that Van Eyck communicated to him his secret; and on. the return of Antonio to Venice, Bellin artfully inveigled it out of him, and published it abroad. In the mean time, Antonio had intrusted it to one of his scholars, named Dominico. This Dominico, being called to Florence, gratuitously imparted it to Andrew del Castagno, who, actuated by the basest ingratitude and the greediness of gain, assassinated his friend and benefactor. All these incidents happening in rapid succession, occasioned the mystery of painting in oil to be quickly spread over all Italy. The schools of Venice and Florence were the foremost to adopt it; but that of Rome did not hesitate long to follow their example. Although we have given 1426 and 1475 as the dates of his birth and death, they are not absolutely settled by any of his biographers. Gallo is of opinion that he was born in | 1447, and died in 1496. Vasari leaves the matter in doubt. 1

1 Vasari. Biog. Universelle.- Pilkington’s Dict.