Coming to the second period in the development of the new art—roughly, that is to say, from 1400 to 1450—Vasari observes that even where there is no great facility displayed, yet the works evince great care and thought; the manner is more free and graceful, the colouring more varied and pleasing; more figures are employed in the compositions, and the drawing is more correct inasmuch as it is closer to nature. It was Masaccio, he says, who during this period superseded the manner of Giotto in regard to the painting of flesh, draperies, buildings, etc., and also restored the practice of foreshortening and brought to light that modern manner which has been followed by all artists. More natural attitudes, and more effectual expression of feeling in the gestures and movements of the body resulted, as art seeking to approach the truth of nature by more correct drawing and to exhibit so close a resemblance to the face of the living person that each figure might at once be recognised. Thus these masters constantly endeavoured to reproduce what they beheld in nature and no more; their works became consequently more carefully considered and better understood. This gave them courage to lay down rules for perspective and to carry the foreshortenings precisely to the point which gives an exact imitation of the relief apparent in nature and the real form. Minute attention to the effects of light and shade and to various technical difficulties ensued, and efforts were made towards a better order of composition. Landscapes also were attempted; tracts of country, trees, shrubs, flowers, clouds, the air, and other natural objects were depicted with some resemblance to the realities represented; insomuch that the art might be said not only to have become ennobled, but to have attained to that flower of youth from which the fruit afterwards to follow might reasonably be looked for.

Foremost among the painters of this period was Fra Angelico, or to give him his proper title, Frate Giovanni da Fiesole, who was born in 1387 not far from Florence, and died in 1455. When he was twenty years old he joined the order of the preaching friars, and all his painting is devoted to religious subjects. He was a man of the utmost simplicity, and most holy in every act of his life. He disregarded all worldly advantages. Kindly to all, and temperate in all his habits, he used to say that he who practised the art of painting had need of quiet, and should live without cares and anxious thoughts; adding that he who would do the work of Christ should perpetually remain with Christ. He was most humble and modest, and in his painting he gave evidence of piety and devotion as well as of ability, and the saints that he painted have more of the air of sanctity than have those of any other master.

It was the custom of Fra Angelico to abstain from retouching or improving any painting once finished. He altered nothing, but left all as it was done the first time, believing, as he said, that such was the will of God. It is also affirmed that he would never take his brushes in hand until he had first offered a prayer, and he is said never to have painted a crucifix without tears streaming from his eyes, and in the countenance and attitude of his figures it is easy to perceive proof of his sincerity, his goodness, and the depth of his devotion to the religion of Christ.

This is well seen in the picture of the Coronation of the Virgin, which is now in the Louvre (No. 1290). "Superior to all his other works," Vasari says of this masterpiece, "and one in which he surpassed himself, is a picture in the Church of San Domenico at Fiesole; in this work he proves the high quality of his powers as well as the profound intelligence he possessed of the art he practised. The subject is the Coronation of the Virgin by Jesus Christ; the principal figures are surrounded by a choir of angels, among whom are a vast number of saints and holy personages, male and female. These figures are so numerous, so well executed in attitudes, so various, and with expressions of the head so richly diversified, that one feels infinite pleasure and delight in regarding them. Nay, one is convinced that those blessed spirits can look no otherwise in heaven itself, or, to speak under correction, could not if they had forms appear otherwise; for all the saints male and female assembled here have not only life and expression most delicately and truly rendered, but the colouring also of the whole work would seem to have been given by the hand of a saint or of an angel like themselves. It is not without sufficient reason therefore that this excellent ecclesiastic is always called Frate Giovanni Angelico. The stories from the life of Our Lady and of San Domenico which adorn the predella, moreover, are in the same divine manner; and I for myself can affirm with truth that I never see this work but it appears something new, nor can I ever satisfy myself with the sight of it or have enough of beholding it."

No less beautiful are the five compartments of the predella to the altar-piece still in San Domenico at Fiesole—which were purchased for the National Gallery in 1860 at the then alarming price of £3500—with no less than two hundred and sixty little figures of saintly personages, "so beautiful," as Vasari says, "that they appear to be truly beings of Paradise."

FRA FILIPPO LIPPI, born in Florence about 1406, and dying there in 1469, was the exact antithesis of Fra Angelico, both in his private life and in the method of his painting. He was just as earthly in both respects as Fra Angelico was heavenly. As a child he was put with the Carmelites, and as he showed an inclination for drawing rather than for study, he was allowed every facility for studying the newly painted chapel of the Branacci, and followed the manner of Masaccio so closely that it was said that the spirit of that master had entered into his body. It is only fair to Masaccio to add that this means his artistic spirit, for Filippo's moral character was by no means exemplary. The story of one of his best-known works, The Nativity, which is now in the Louvre (No. 1343), is thus related by Vasari:—"Having received a commission from the nuns of Santa Margherita, at Prato, to paint a picture for the high altar of their church, he chanced one day to see the daughter of Francesco Buti, a citizen of Florence, who had been sent to the convent as a novice. Filippo, after a glance at Lucrezia—for that was her name—was so taken with her beauty that he prevailed upon the nuns to allow him to paint her as the Virgin. This resulted in his falling so violently in love with her that he induced her to run away with him. Resisting every effort of her father and of the nuns to make her leave Filippo, she remained with him, and bore him a son who lived to be almost as famous a painter as his father. He was called Filippino Lippi."

The picture of S. John and six saints in the National Gallery (No. 677) also recalls the story of his wildness, inasmuch as it came from the Palazzo Medici, where Filippo worked for the great Cosimo di Medici. It was well known that Filippo paid no attention to his work when he was engaged in the pursuit of his pleasures, and so Cosimo shut him up in the palace so that he might not waste his time in running about while working for him. But Filippo after a couple of days' confinement made a rope out of his bed clothes, and let himself down from the window, and for several days gave himself up to his own amusements. When Cosimo found that he had disappeared, he had search made for him, and at last Filippo returned; after which Cosimo was afraid to shut him up again in view of the risk he had run in descending from the window.

Vasari considers that Filippo excelled in his smaller pictures—"In these he surpassed himself, imparting to them a grace and beauty than which nothing finer could be imagined. Examples of this may be seen in the predellas of all the works painted by him. He was indeed an

National Gallery, London

artist of such power that in his own time he was surpassed by none; therefore it is that he has not only been always praised by Michelangelo, but in many particulars has been imitated by him."

As a contributor to the progress of the art of painting he is credited by Vasari with two innovations, which may be seen in his paintings in the church of San Domenico at Prato, namely (1) the figures being larger than life, and thereby forming an example to later artists for giving true grandeur to large figures; and (2) certain figures clothed in vestments but little used at that time, whereby the minds of other artists were awakened and began to depart from that sameness which should rather be called obsolete monotony than antique simplicity.

It is noticeable that despite his bad character—which is said to have been the cause of his death by poison—all his work was in religious subjects. He was painting the chapel in the Church of Our Lady at Spoleto when, in 1469, he died.

Paolo Uccello, as he was called, was born at Florence in 1397, and died there in 1475. His real name was Paolo di Dono, but he was so fond of painting animals and birds—especially the latter—that he officially signed himself as Paolo Uccello. He devoted so much of his time, however, to the study of perspective, that both his life and his work suffered thereby. His wife used to relate that he would stand the whole night through beside his writing table, and when she entreated him to come to bed, would only say, "Oh, what a delightful thing is this perspective!" Donatello, the sculptor, is said to have told him that in his ceaseless study of perspective he was leaving the substance for the shadow; but Donatello was not a painter.

Before his time the painters had not studied the question of perspective scientifically. Giotto had made no attempt at it, and Masaccio only came nearer to realising it by chance. Brunelleschi, the architect, laid down its first principles, but it was Uccello who first put these principles into practice in painting, and thereby paved the way for his successors to walk firmly upon.

How he struggled with the difficulties of this vitally important subject may be seen in the large battle-piece at the National Gallery, and however crude and absurd this fine composition may seem at first sight to those who are only accustomed to looking at modern pictures, it must be remembered that Uccello is here struggling, as it were, with a savage monster which to succeeding painters has, through his efforts, been a submissive slave.

This picture is one of four panels executed for the Bartolini family. One of the others is in the Louvre, and a third in the Uffizi. Another—or indeed almost the only other—work of Uccello which is now to be seen is the colossal painting in monochrome (terra-verde) on the wall of the cathedral at Florence. Strangely enough, this equestrian portrait commemorates an Englishman, Sir John Hawkwood, whose name is Italianized in the inscription into Giovanni Acuto. He was born at Sible Hedingham in Essex, the son of a tanner, and adventuring under Edward III. into France, found his way to Florence, where he served the State so well that they interred him, on his death in 1393, at the public expense, and subsequently commissioned Uccello to execute his monument.

With all his devotion to science, the artist has committed the strange mistake of making the horse stand on two legs on the same side, the other two being lifted.

To Masaccio, born in or about 1400, and dying in 1443, we owe a great step in art towards realism. It was he, says Vasari, who first attained the clear perception that painting is only the close imitation, by drawing and colouring simply, of all the forms presented by nature showing them as they are produced by her, and that whoever shall most perfectly effect this may be said to have most nearly approached the summit of excellence. The conviction of this truth, he adds, was the cause of Masaccio's attaining so much knowledge by means of perpetual study that he may be accounted among the first by whom art was in a measure delivered from rudeness and hardness; it was he who led the way to the realisation of beautiful attitudes and movements which were never exhibited by any painter before his day, while he also imparted a life and force to his figures, with a certain roundness and relief which render them truly characteristic and natural. Possessing great correctness of judgment, Masaccio perceived that all figures not sufficiently foreshortened to appear standing firmly on the plane whereon they are placed, but reared up on the points of their feet, must needs be deprived of all grace and excellence in the most important essentials. It is true that Uccello, in his studies of perspective, had helped to lessen this difficulty, but Masaccio managed his foreshortenings with much greater skill (though doubtless with less science) and succeeded better than any artist before him. Moreover, he imparted extreme softness and harmony to his paintings, and was careful to have the carnations of the heads and other nude parts in accordance with the colours of the draperies, which he represented with few and simple folds as they are seen in real life.

Masaccio's principal remaining works are his frescoes in the famous Branacci Chapel at the Carmine convent in Florence. The work of decorating the chapel was begun by Masolino, but finished by Masaccio and Filippo Lippi. Vasari states it as a fact that all the most celebrated sculptors and painters had become excellent and illustrious by studying Masaccio's work in this chapel, and there is good reason to believe that Michelangelo and Raphael profited by their studies there, without mentioning all the names enumerated by Vasari. Seeing how important the influence of Masaccio was destined to become, I have ventured to italicise Vasari's opinions on the causes which operated in creating the Florentine style and in raising the art of painting to heights undreamt of by its earliest pioneers.