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Masaccio, Masolino and Filippino Lippi

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When they were commissioned to fresco the Brancacci Chapel in 1423, Masolino was forty years old and Masaccio twenty-two.  For a long time, blindly accepting tradition, scholars thought that they were master and pupil, but actually Masaccio joined the Guild and painted a fresco with St. Paul and his celebrated La Sagra (both now lost) quite independently in 1422. The two painters may have been in close partnership, however, as the consistency and harmony of the cycle, on which they worked together, would tend to suggest. In these frescoes Masolino, a refined master of the late Gothic, tailors his style to match that of his younger and more innovative colleague while contriving to maintain his sophisticated, decorative touch. Masaccio's painting, on the other hand, has greater force, it is populated by figures endowed with a solid plasticity set in real space and marked by a deep, almost tragic sense of moral dignity. The perspective imparts extraordinary visual unity to the cycle as a whole and the sense of reality is enhanced by the identification of a source of light casting the figures' shadows. Filippino Lippi, a Renaissance artist of some excellence, was commissioned with completing the cycle in 1481 to 1483. His restrained and respectful intervention in keeping with his predecessors' work contributes to the overall sense of stylistic unity that is such a feature of the Brancacci Chapel, to the point where it is difficult to identify the work of each master with any degree of certainty.

   Masaccio, The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden                           Masolino, The Temptation of Adam and Eve

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