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 Masaccio

 Masaccio

(1401 - c. 1428)
Born: San Giovani Valdarno, Italy
Style: Early Renaissance
Famous Works:
  • Madonna Enthroned (1426)
  • The Tribute Money (1427)
  • The Expulsion from Paradise (c. 1427)
Masaccio, whose genius was identified early in his career, introduced a new way of painting during the early Renaissance. While his training is not known, his close proximity to Florence would have afforded him the opportunity to see Donatello's and Brunelleschi's work. Masaccio's talent is clear in his portrayal of the human figure and "rational" picture space. Rational picture space is the realistic depiction of the picture plane receding back into the space. Masaccio was one of the first to accomplish correct rational space and linear perspective in painting, giving the viewer a sense of dimension and depth on a two-dimensional surface. It is evident that he was keenly aware of human anatomy. His nudes are described as "clothed nudes;" his mastery of form had not been seen since Roman antiquity. Masaccio's most famous work is the set of frescoes housed in the Brancacci Chapel in Florence. Portraying the story of Adam and Eve, these paintings were revolutionary in their virtuosity of space and the monumentality of the figures. Masaccio synthesized the lessons of Giotto and Brunelleschi, offering the first understandable composition of figures resting naturally within depicted space. Masaccio perfected the use of contrapposto in his figures, while relating the events using gesture, motion and emotion. A limited palette of complementary colors, foreshortening, and sensitivity to human emotion makes these some of the Renaissance period's most beautiful works. Sadly, Masaccio died prematurely at the young age of twenty-seven.
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