Tommaso di ser Giovanni
di Simone Cassai, also known as Masaccio, was another great Florentine artist
who emerged at the beginning of the fifteenth century. He was born on 21st
December 1401 in Castel San Giovanni near Florence and lived with his younger
brother and his widowed mother. After the death of his father, Ser Giovanni de
Mone d’Andreuccio in 1406 the family lived in great poverty but the financial
situation seems to have eased in 1412 on the remarriage of his mother. Masaccio’s
quite wealthy step-father, Tedesco di Maestro Feo traded as a druggist, it is
likely that Masaccio lived with his fathers family while his brother Giovanni,
who also became a painter, stayed with his mother.
Florence was under the control of Cosmo the Elder and the Medici had become the first family of the city both artistically and politically, and the city itself was enjoying a period of calm and prosperity. Masaccio’s early artistic development is uncertain, we do not know who his master was although names attributed to his apprenticeship include Masolino, and Bicci di Lorenzo, who ran a successful Florentine workshop.
Masaccio was accepted into the guild of painters in Florence in 1422 he became acquainted with Donatello and Brunelleschi and was influenced by their work. When Masaccio was working on his first major masterpiece eighty-five years had passed since the death of Giotto de Bondone. Giotto and his contemporaries had started to change the way in which painters viewed the world during the period known as the Proto-Renaissance.
Giotto was a major source of inspiration for Masaccio and he embraced Giotto's example in a rejection of the International Gothic style of the time. Masaccio was one of the first artists to use a vanishing point in his work employing the use of scientific perspective in his paintings. The first work attributed to him is the San Giovenale Triptych for the church of Cascia di Reggello near Florence.