Antonello da Messina
He was born in Messina, Sicily, and lived in Venice from 1475 to 1476. Antonello was one of the pioneers of oil painting in Italy.
In his works, he combined Italian traditions (sculptural modeling, rational space, and man-the- measure-of-all-things characterization) with northern European obsessions (depiction of the smallest details and lack of idealization).
Antonello had a marvelous ability to observe and paint light. Combined with the sharp tracing of the facial features, it gives almost sculptural expressiveness to the portraits, which seem to be able to speak; the gaze of the model seems to respond to the gaze of the viewer.
Antonello had a wonderful ability to recreate the appearance and feel of the skin — differentiating between lips, a stubbly or shaven chin, a hairless cheek — eyebrows, hair, the liquid surface of an eye (can only be done with oil paint and requires supreme technical mastery). Oil-paint equation: learns technique from northern artists in Naples and hands it on to clever Venetians, such as Bellini. It is very likely that he used a magnifying glass — and it is worth using one when looking at his paintings.
“Once this new secret that Antonello had brought from Flanders into the city of Milan had been understood, Antonello was admired and cherished by those magnificent noblemen for as long as he lived.”
Giorgio Vasari on Antonello da Messina
Antonello da Messina’s major works are Christ Blessing, 1465 (London: National Gallery); Virgin Annunciate, c. 1465 (Palermo: Galleria Nazionale); Portrait of a Man, c. 1475 (London: National Gallery); St. Jerome in his Study, c. 1475 (London: National Gallery)
- Robert Cumming. Art: complete encyclopedia. – 512 p. – Moscow: Astrel, 2005.