Masaccio's legacy

Essay by ralukutza10College, UndergraduateC, May 2004

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It is a frequent practice of nature to produce a person of great excellence in any profession, then to raise up another to rival him at the same time and in a neighboring domain, so that they may help one another by their emulation and talents. This circumstance also inflames the spirit of those who come after, to endeavor by study and industry to attain to the same honor and glorious reputation which they heard praised everyday in their predecessors. That this is true is shown by Florence , that has produced in the same age Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Paolo Ucello and Masaccio, each one pre-eminent in his kind, who not only freed themselves of the rude and rough style in vogue until then, but by their beautiful works incited the minds of their successors and pointed out the true way to rise to the highest level .Masaccio

is regarded as probably the most elevated of them all because of his superiority in the art of painting. He reflected that, since painting is nothing more than an imitation of all natural living things, he who should follow Nature most closely would come nearest to perfection: "I painted and my picture was like life. I gave my figures movement, passion, soul: they breathed". He studied this idea and learned how to apply it, and it eventually led him to acquire so much knowledge that he may be ranked among the first who freed themselves from hardness, the imperfections and difficulties of art, and who introduced movement, vigor and life into the attitudes, thus giving the figures a certain appropriate and natural relief that no painter had ever succeeded in obtaining before. Continually shaping his skills and developing them, using what was best of others and inspiring from that which...