Antonello da Messina: a change in perspective


Imagine you’ve just arrived in Milan, and you’re trying to decide what to do and see first.  Allow me to help you. The new exhibition in Palazzo Reale of works by  Antonello da Messina is in  the perfect location for you to visit once you’ve seen the famous piazza Duomo.

Let me introduce the artist first. As his name suggests, he was born in Messina (Sicily) in 1430, at a time when  Messina  was a very busy route for Mediterranean commerce. This helped Antonello to get in touch with different kinds of art and people. He was one of the most important painters of the 15th century. His works and skills were able to influence even painters of the Venetian Renaissance.

When you enter  the exhibition, you are greeted by a sign on  a red wall saying “dentro la pittura del maestro del Quattrocento italiano.” Translated, this means you are “inside the painting of the master of the Italian 1400s.”  From the moment you enter,  and you start admiring those magnificent works of art, you get completely stunned.

Antonello da Messina’s portaits of human beings  are so realistic. They give you the impression that you are staring at a physical person.   They are capable of  transferring the emotions and the thoughts of the subject directly to the viewer.  Giving you the wish, the desire to talk with them.

Continuing the tour of  his artistic life, you will find a lot of Christian religious drawings representing the Virgin, angels and Christ during biblical events. One of the most important is “Annunciata di Palermo,” which is conserved at the  palazzo Abatellis in Palermo. It describes the Virgin’s reaction to the annunciation of the Angel telling her she will be the mother of Jesus.

You can’t leave before you have admired “San Girolamo nello Studio” one of the masterpieces of the European Renaissance. It is in the National Gallery in London. The great skills of the painter are clear in this work. He was so capable of playing with  colours and shades, giving  the painting a great harmony and deepness thanks to his knowledge of perspective. He truly cared about details, even the smallest ones, like the books on the shelves, the peacock or the lion hidden in the shadows. The saint, as represented by Antonello, is truly  focused on humanistic studies. Antonello had a great taste for the interior rooms.

So, what are you waiting for? Come and get to know one of the most fascinating artists ever. I am sure you won’t regret it.

Cristiano Amato

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