Happy Birthday Masaccio! Born in San Giovanni Valdarno on this day in 1401, Masaccio is widely recognized as one of the great innovators of Early Renaissance painting. As Giotto had in the fourteenth century, Masaccio offered a radical new painting style at the start of the fifteenth century in Florence. Though his career lasted only a short time – he died prematurely in Rome before his twenty-seventh birthday – Masaccio’s paintings ushered in a new naturalism and emotional drama counter to the prevailing graceful stylization of International Gothic artists like Agnolo Gaddi, Spinello Aretino, and Lorenzo Monaco. The first painter to adopt a system of one-point linear perspective, Masaccio was the only painter to be praised by Leon Battista Alberti in the preface to his treatise on painting in a list of great artists that included Masaccio’s friends Filippo Brunelleschi and Donatello as well as Lorenzo Ghiberti and Luca della Robbia.

Reference: Hellmut Wohl. “Masaccio.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T054828.

Expulsion from Paradise and Baptism of the Neophytes, 1426-7, frescoes, Brancacci Chapel, S. Maria del Carmine, Florence.

St Jerome and St John the Baptist, 1428, egg tempera on poplar, National Gallery, London

Trinity, 1425-28, fresco, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

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