Masaccio, a great Italian Renaissance painter

The Renaissance is one of the greatest periods of splendor of art. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, one of the greatest moments for the art of Europe took place. More specifically, in Italy, where figures such as Sandro Boticelli, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Ucello and Giovanni Masaccio stand out. Precisely, we will delve into the figure and legacy of Masaccio.

Who was Masaccio?

Triptych of San Juvenal -

Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Mone Cassai, or better known as Massacio, He was an Italian painter of the first stage of the Renaissance, the Quattrocento. He was born in 1401 in San Giovanni Valdarno and at 16 he went to Florence to possibly acquire knowledge about painting.

There he established contact with a painters' guild, where he was able to receive influences and make friends with many of them, such as Donatello or Brunelleschi. Masaccio was able to capture a great artistic work despite his youth, and for this, He is considered an artist ahead of his time.

He is credited with the triptych of the church of San Juvenal de Cascia di Reggello, dated 1422. This would have been his first work in Florence, probably commissioned by the Castellani family. He also made frescoes in other religious buildings and even other cities such as Pisa.

Finally, in 1428 he traveled to Rome with the intention of collaborating in the chapel of Santa María la Mayor. However, the project never ended because it died at the end of the year, at 27. The causes are unknown, although it is thought that he was poisoned.

Why is this painter so important?

The expulsion from paradise -

Quattrocento is a period in which important novelties occur in the world of painting. And all these developments are based on the entire stage that happens: The Renaissance.

To define the Renaissance in painting we have to talk about perspectives, vanishing points and dimensions, also of a search for perfection. And in this set of concepts, man is the protagonist of everything.

Masaccio is considered to be the first artist to apply the laws of perspective in painting. Although who developed all this knowledge was Brunelleschi, Masaccio was the one who put them into practice at first.

A) Yes, the works managed to gain in volume and naturalness, since the spaces represented won in a certain realistic tone. Thanks to Masaccio, the bases of Quatrocentto painting and later Renaissance stages were laid. After all, perspective is still one of the keys to painting.

Masaccio's work

Resurrection of the son of Theophilus - Anna Pakutina /

Masaccio's best known work is the frescoes of the Brancacci chapel, inside the church of Santa María del Carmine in Florence. This was the city where Masaccio was able to refine his style and put it into practice. The fresco depicts the life of St. Peter and some scenes of the Old Testament.

It is a complex composition where all scenes are portrayed from the viewer's point of view. This reaffirms Masaccio's ability to apply perspectives to his works.

In addition, it should be noted that this work was very important for later painters like Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo, who tried to analyze all the details.

More works of Masaccio

Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist -

Another outstanding work is the frescoes of the Trinity, located on the walls of the church of Santa María Novella, also in Florence. It is in this work that he first applied the theory of perspective.

Finally, works important works of Masaccio are the Políptico de Pisa, and the canvas Virgin with the Child and Santa Ana. The latter can be visited in the Uffizi galleries of Florence.

As you have observed, Masaccio's short life made much of his work remain in the city of Florence. Compared to other Italian painters of the Renaissance, it is an artistic legacy that has barely traveled kilometers.

However, it has served as support for many later painters to learn. Thus, we cannot consider Masaccio's work less important because it is smaller, We have a lot to thank you for!

Cover photo: photogolfer /