b. 1401 Castel San Giovanni, Italy, d. 1428 Rome
Masaccio, born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Mone, received his nickname, which may translate as "Sloppy Tom," from the sixteenth-century biographer of artists Giorgio Vasari. Vasari observed that Masaccio was so devoted to his work that "he refused to give any time to worldly causes, even in the way of dress." At the age of twenty, Masaccio went to Florence and remained active there during his short but prolific career. Two years after his arrival, he entered the Florentine painters' guild.
Masaccio was one of the first Italian painters to use the science of perspective to create the illusion of three-dimensional space in paintings. His use of a single light source as a means of modeling and giving dimension to figures and his mastery of one-point perspective contributed to the development of the Florentine Renaissance style of painting. At the age of twenty-seven, Masaccio abruptly abandoned his most important commission in Florence, the Brancacci Chapel, and went to Rome, where he mysteriously died shortly thereafter.