Antonello da Messina
Italian painter Antonello di Giovanni di Antonio was born in the city of Messina, and he was later given the name of the city as his identification - Antonello da Messina. His exact date of birth is not known, but it’s guessed to be between the years 1429 and 1431. Although he was a southern Italian, with many great Italian artists to influence him, Antonello used many of the styles and techniques of Early Netherlandish painting methods. Even more amazingly, he had generated a great artistic influence during the Italian Renaissance over the Venetian artists and other Northern Italian painters.
Some of his personal was well recorded and preserved. The name of his father was Giovanni da Antonio Mazonus and his mother’s name was Garita, probably a shortened version of Margherita. Antonello most likely was apprenticed to an artist or two as a young man, both in his hometown and Palermo. According to a written document dated in 1524, by Pietro Summonte, it was noted that Antonello had been a student of a Neapolitan artist Niccolò Colantonio in 1450.
The Sibiu Crucifixion, named so because it is now housed in the museum of Sibiu, Bucharest (Romania) was one of the two representations that Antonello painted in 1454 and 1455. The other is the Antwerp Crucifixion now in Belgium, which he’d painted during the same period. He most definitely gained his Netherlandish or Flemish art skills from Colantonio, but also from studying the works of Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden that were bought by wealthy Italian art collectors, such as King Alonzo V of Aragon, who was Colantonio’s patron. Later, in 1475, he made a third painting in the same theme, named the London Crucifixion. These three of Antonello's paintings were oil paint on wood, but he also painted other works with oil paints and tempera on panels and canvas.
In 1456 or 1457, Antonello became an independent artist and he earned his first commission, but he had to take his wife and young son Jacobello with him to Reggio Calabria, because that was where the job was located. After he had finished there, Antonello’s father bought passage on a sailing vessel to bring Antonello and his family home. His works were still distinctively Flemish in style in the early 1460s, but this time he was more influenced by Piero della Francesca, as seen in the Salting Madonna, Saint Jerome Penitent and Abraham Served by the Angels.
Antonello’s portraits also differed from the Italian style; he painted the subject in a “Flemish” three-quarter pose, rather than the profile view which was the traditional form in Italy. In 1470, when he heard that some of Giovanni Bellini’s paintings were in Venice, he travelled there in hopes of seeing them. He continued journey, finding commissions to work on in Sicily and Syracuse, and by 1474 he had improved on his figures, making them more expressive and their anatomy more like those drawn by Bellini and Francesca. He went to Venice again in 1475 and stayed there until the autumn of 1476. It was in Venice that year that he painted some of his most famous works: Saint Sebastian, the Condottiero. and the San Cassiano Altarpiece. This altarpiece was a large sacra conversazione using Bellini’s perfected format and it influenced the Venetian artists greatly. Antonello’s last major work was the Virgin Annunciate, which can be seen in the Palazzo Abatellis, in the city of Palermo, Sicily. Jacobello, his son, was responsible for finishing Antonello’s paintings when Antonello died only three short years later, in 1479, after returning to his birthplace of Messina.