Masaccio

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Masaccio (December 21, 1401 – autumn 1428), born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, was the first great painter of the Quattrocento period of the Italian Renaissance. According to Vasari, Masaccio was the best painter of his generation because of his skill at recreating lifelike figures and movements as well as a convincing sense of three-dimensionality.[1]

The name Masaccio is a humorous version of Maso (short for Tommaso), meaning "big", "fat", "clumsy" or "messy" Tom. The name may have been created to distinguish him from his principal collaborator, also called Maso, who came to be known as Masolino ("little/delicate Tom").

Despite his brief career, he had a profound influence on other artists. He was one of the first to use Linear perspective in his painting, employing techniques such as vanishing point in art for the first time. He also moved away from the International Gothic style and elaborate ornamentation of artists like Gentile da Fabriano to a more naturalistic mode that employed perspective and chiaroscuro for greater realism.

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Early life

Masaccio was born to Giovanni di Simone Cassai and Jacopa di Martinozzo in Castel San Giovanni di Altura, now San Giovanni Valdarno (today part of the province of Arezzo, Tuscany).[2] His father was a notary and his mother the daughter of an innkeeper of Barberino di Mugello, a town a few miles south of Florence. His family name, Cassai, comes from the trade of his paternal grandfather Simone and granduncle Lorenzo, who were carpenters - cabinet makers ("casse", hence "cassai"). His father died in 1406, when Tommaso was only five; in that year a brother was born, called Giovanni (1406–1486) after the dead father. He also was to become a painter, with the nickname of lo Scheggia meaning "the splinter." [3] In 1412 Monna Jacopa married an elderly apothecary, Tedesco di maestro Feo, who already had several daughters, one of whom grew up to marry the only other documented painter from Castel San Giovanni, Mariotto di Cristofano (1393–1457).

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