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Antonello da Messina (active 1456, died 1479), a Sicilian painter who, during a short stay in Venice in 1475-6, had an enormous impact on Venetian art as it has come to be celebrated: its mystical sense of space, sensual use of color, poetry of light. Antonello was influential because he was one of the first Italians to take up oil as a painting medium.
The 16th-century writer Vasari tells the life of Antonello da Messina as a tale of borrowings and transformations, the origin myth of oil painting. The fabled inventor of oil paint was Jan van Eyck, an alchemist as well as an artist according to Vasari, who discovered it after years of occult experimentation. He managed to keep his find a secret despite the distinctive smell of his paintings. Then Antonello, "a person of good and lively intelligence, of great sagacity", happened to go to Naples and see a van Eyck painting owned by King Alfonso. Antonello was so struck that he dropped everything and set out for Bruges, where he charmed the aged van Eyck with gifts until he shared the secret.
Antonello set up his studio in Venice, a city that suited his pleasure-loving temperament. His oil paintings caused a sensation; he was a star. But then another artist persuaded him to divulge the knowledge and suddenly oil painting was was everywhere. Antonello was no longer exceptional....
Antonello da Messina, properly Antonello di Giovanni di Antonio, but also called Antonello degli Antoni and Anglicized as Anthony of Messina (c. 1430 – February 1479); Italian painter from Messina, Sicily, active during the Italian Renaissance. His work shows strong influences from Early Netherlandish painting although there is no documentary evidence that he ever traveled beyond Italy. Giorgio Vasari credited him with the introduction of oil painting into Italy. Unusually for a south Italian artist of the Renaissance, his work...