Antonello da Messina: Sicily's Renaissance Master
Antonello da Messina (ca. 1430–1479) was one of the most groundbreaking and influential painters of the quattrocento. His formation took place in Naples during the rule of Alfonso of Aragon, in a brilliant artistic climate open to French and Netherlandish painting. Antonello absorbed these influences, so much so that many of his near contemporaries believed he was the first to introduce the use of oil painting—already current in the North—in Italy. His trip to Venice in 1475 was a landmark occasion, and his great altarpiece for the church of San Cassiano there (now in fragmentary form in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) redirected the art of Giovanni Bellini and other Venetian painters, while his portraits mark a new stage in the evolution of that genre in Italy. No greater artist emerged from southern Italy in the fifteenth century.