Hi everyone! This week I would like to talk about the artist Masaccio and one of his artworks. Masaccio was born in 1401 and died in 1428. His full name is Tommaso di ser Giovanni di Mone Cassai. He is an early Renaissance artist. His life and work were documented by the art historian Giorgio Vasari, but, unfortunately, Masaccio lived a really short life.
Even though Masaccio had a short-lived life, he was influential to the city of Florence. His artworks were very acclaimed in the city, and many artists followed his unique style. An example of this is seen through the Renaissance painter Filippo Lippi, known for his beautiful paintings and scandalous lifestyle. When he saw Masaccio painting in a Carmine church, he was so inspired that he decided to become a painter. This is just one example of artistic influence, out of many. Therefore, Masaccio was a truly profound artist who had a large impact on Florentine Renaissance art.
Madonna of Tickling (also Madonna Casini), 1426-27
The painting I wanted to talk about today is called the Madonna of Tickling. This is a tempera painting on a gold panel. I saw this painting at the Uffizi Gallery, and it was an very small artwork. It is only 24 by 18 centimeters. This painting was commissioned for Antonio Casini; it is, most likely, very small because Casini may have wanted it for personal devotion. By making the work small, it would have been easier for Casini to carry it around with him on adventures, journeys, and travels.
When I saw this painting, I loved the color scheme. The gold makes the figures stand out, and it highlights the blue, red, and white on the figure’s clothes. As we can see, Mary is embracing baby Jesus in his painting. And, as the title states, she is in the process of tickling Christ. Masaccio has engraved circular halos around both the figures.
This is probably the first time I’ve ever seen a Renaissance painting depict Mary tickling baby Christ. Most often, we see them together posed or engaging in an activity, but never have I seen Mary tickling Christ. I think this is such a unique and original approach that Masaccio took to painting this because it adds a innocent quality to the work. Tickling a child is adorable because babies have the cutest laughs. Therefore, I think this painting has a silly and fun quality to it because of this.
Also, in general, I just love this painting. It’s so simple, but it’s also fun and engaging. You can hear baby Christ laughing as Mary tickles him. Overall, I think Masaccio’s painting has a pure quality to it, which shows his talent in creating this subject matter.