1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Masolino Da Panicale

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MASOLINO DA PANICALE (1383–c. 1445), Florentine painter, was said to have been born at Panicale di Valdelsa, near Florence. It is more probable, however, that he was born in Florence itself, his father, Cristoforo Fini, who was an “imbiancatore,” or whitewasher, having been domiciled in the Florentine quarter of S. Croce. There is reason to believe that Tommaso, nicknamed Masolino, was a pupil of the painter Starnina, and was principally influenced in style by Antonio Veneziano; he may probably enough have become in the sequel the master of Masaccio. He was born in 1383; he died later than 1429, perhaps as late as 1440 or even 1447. Towards 1423 he entered the service of Filippo Scolari, the Florentine-born obergespann of Temeswar in Hungary, and stayed some time in that country, returning towards 1427 to Italy. The only works which can with certainty be assigned to him are a series of wall paintings executed towards 1428, commissioned by Cardinal Branda Castiglione, in the church of Castiglione d’Olona, not far from Milan, and another series in the adjoining baptistery. The first set is signed as painted by “Masolinus de Florentia.” It was recovered in 1843 from a coating of whitewash, considerably damaged; its subject matter is taken from the lives of the Virgin and of SS Lawrence and Stephen. The series in the baptistery relates to the life and death of John the Baptist. The reputation of Masolino had previously rested almost entirely upon the considerable share which he was supposed to have had in the celebrated frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel, in the Church of the Carmine in Florence; he was regarded as the precursor of Masaccio, and by many years the predecessor of Filippino Lippi, in the execution of a large proportion of these works. But from a comparison of the Castiglione with the Brancacci frescoes, and from other data, it is very doubtful whether Masolino had any hand at all in the latter series. Possibly he painted in the Brancacci Chapel certain specified subjects which are now either destroyed or worked over. Several paintings assigned to Masolino on the authority of Vasari are now ascribed to Masaccio.  (W. M. R.)