Room 53

Tuscany 1400–1450

During the 1420s, paintings by the celebrated but short-lived Masaccio
must have appeared astonishingly naturalistic when compared with works by his immediate predecessors.

The bulk of Masaccio's figures, and the sense of their anatomies under their majestic draperies, were inspired by ancient and modern sculpture as well as works by Giotto from the previous century.

Their spatial settings were clearly established using newly discovered rules of perspective. Here was the much-desired revival of the ideals of antique art, championed above all in the mercantile city of Florence with its regard for novelty and its admiration of the classical past.

Despite the importance that Masaccio would come to have for future generations, 15th-century Florentine patrons could select from a variety of styles by artists such as Lorenzo Monaco or Gentile da Fabriano.

These painters are sometimes grouped together because of a common interest in graceful forms, vibrant colouring and surface pattern. Their inspiration was possibly portable metalwork, which meant that the style was not restricted to Tuscany, as is evident in the Wilton Diptych, an earlier painting of uncertain origin, but almost certainly made for the English court.

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