Masolino – the Master and the challenging student

Masolino da Panicale (c. 1383 – c. 1447) was a toscanian painter. He was a man who used to work with assistants, managing a big crew. He was all the time under pressure, operating many pictures. He used to work in many places, wandering from one place to another. He even reached Hungary in the east .

Many of his most valuable pictures were created with the help of his great young assistant, Masaccio (c.1401-c.1428, died at the age of 26 after being poisoned by one of his rivals). Masolino used to work with International Gothic style, while Masaccio was somewhat more realist. The cooperation between the artists resulted with a renaissance of the Italian painting, leading a consciousness revolution. Many of the greatest artists of the renaissance generations after Masolino and Masaccio, who wished to renovate the art of their time, were inspired by their pictures.

Artists are not great conquerors, mostly they are not womanizers; but known for staying in their own shell painting or creating art. So, as for Masaccio, the biographers are full of stories about our little conqueror. He used to be very stubborn, fighting the Gotich orientation in Masolino’s art factory. He was characterized with extreme nature, so much that he usually forgot to ask for the payment of his work. Till this day, the critics cannot determine where in the pictures does Masaccio ends and Masolino starts. Many of Masolino’s frescas lays in Hungary, Rome and Firence.

The following pictures will be used to portray the style of art common to the Renaissance – the two dimensional fusioned paintings ( ). When finding the hidden hero of the picture, the whole perspective changes and the observation becomes much more interesting. In the following picture, Baptism Of Christ, Jesus is standing between the banks of the Jordanian river. John the Baptist pours water on his head in order to sanctify him. In each bank you can see people staring with appreciation towards this religious act. In contrast to this supportive vision, our hidden hero is not comfortable with the situation. Our hidden hero lays on the upper part of the sloping river, cursing the whole process. The hero is dark skinned with huge face,  and is hard to be noticed. The interesting question is: What was the artist’s opinion? Did he find this process worth cursing or advocate it?Masolino 4Masolino 1

Masolino 3 Masolino 2

The Pray Of Jesus Signed

And a little more, this time about Masaccio

Masaccio used to paint nature as it is, without trying to fix it. All the people in his pictures are similar to sculptures – being stable and usually are equally high.

Masaccio appeared to have many defects. He lived miserable life and depended on other painters to make living. In other words, his lack of confidence made it hard for him to confront the costumers and handle the payment part.

In contrast to his lack of abilities in the business sphere, masaccio left after him a great influence on the other generations. Some say that great figures, like Michelangelo and Rafael came from far just to study from his masterpieces. He had a great part in the development of the realist style of painting.

The following picture, Crucifix (0.77mX0.64m), which was painted for church Carmine in Piza. The picture was eventually sold for the Napolitan museum. The critics tend to complain about the disproportional sizes between Jesus and his mother to the rest of the characters and the lack of hope expressed by Maria Magdalena.

Maria Magdalena, a close companion to Jesus whom was “returned to the good way” by Jesus. She is portrayed as a hero with blond her, bemoans near crucified Jesus. Using photoshop I flopped and zoomed in the picture. In front of me I found another hidden story:

The head of Maria Magdalena transforms into a burning bonfire. On her robe you may find two characters, trying to escape the mighty fire.

Maria Magdalena

Escaping from maria magdalenaq

Blood, Massacre and Attraction

The following picture is called “”The Snow Miracle”. It can be found today at the Capodimonte museum in Napoli. The picture is one of the three masterpieces that Masolino have created.

On the forth century, Christianity witnessed a tragic age. The Christians started to question the equality of people. Expectedly, they reached a negative conclusion, and founded the baptism, as a way to toe the line. The main power of Christianity at that time Spread to Europe, and they banished the Egyptian Christianity.

The Pope Liberius decided that the Egyptian Christians need to take another baptism in order to take part in the Catholic Church.

Off course, the Egyptians opposed this act. As a result, all representatives of Egypt who reached Rome found their death.

A thousand years later, in one of Rome’s churches, the place where the mass murder occurred, a white stone in the shape of a man’s head was found. Cleaning the stone by taking down the snow on it led to a leaking of blood from it. The phenomenon had been reported to be a miracle to the pope, who reached there as soon as possible (anything at that time had to be considered a “miracle”). Ironically, the miracle is not the discovery of the leaking blood; but instead about the snowing weather that took place at August 5, Rome.

The pope gathered a lot of people to behold the cleaning, while he was to clean the stone (not to mention that… no one else dared to do this instead). Blood indeed leaked again and the church was renovated to be “Santa Maria Maggiore” till today.

Masolino shows us in the following picture the pope cleaning the stone. When focusing on the crowd, some of them are indeed interested in the miracle while others where dealing with the opposite sex. It was the first time where I found this kind of “interests” in a painting which describes the church. I suppose the picture is criticizing the people around the pope.


There’s another picture dealing with the subject, same size picture by Masolino. The picture, styled Gothic international, describes the saints bemoaning about the mass murder. The mourning, in contrast to the “snow”, is expressed with blood. Taking a close observation on the picture, you may find the blood crying the main idea.

When going over the Christian writings, you cannot ignore their poetical beauty. In the end, they are bemoaning a mass murder they’ve executed themselves, a thousand years ago.

It is not the baptism that was the casus belli, but actually it was a battle of identity and power. The Egyptian Christians did not have the same status and power as these of Rome and Byzantium, and of course the economical factor played a rule too. I believe the fighting was pretty much about rejecting the right for everyone to run a church and offer religious services.

It was very weird and shaming to see how people used to force the baptism act on old people, who were no less connected to their Christian identity than other. If you took a look at the Christians at the Middle East, you wouldn’t find them less connected to there Christian identity. Quite the opposite – the Christian communities in the Caucasus, Middle East and Egypt are much more connected to there Christian identity.

blood crying


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