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Maso Finiguerra


FINIGUERRA, MASO (i.e., TOMMAso) (1426-1464), Florentine goldsmith, draughtsman and engraver, was born in March 1426 in Sta Lucia d'Ognissanti and died in Dec. 1464. He was the son of Antonio, and grandson of Tommaso Finiguerra or Finiguerri, goldsmiths of Florence, and was brought up to this profession, becoming early distinguished for his work in niello. In 1457 he was in partnership with Piero di Bartolommeo di Sall and the great Antonio Pollaiuolo, when they received an order for a pair of silver candlesticks for the church of San Jacopo at Pistoia. In 1463 Finiguerra drew cartoons for five or more figures for the sacristy of the duomo, which was being decorated in wood inlay by a group of artists with Giuliano da Maiano at their head. He also worked under Ghiberti on the gates of the baptistery.

Maso Finiguerra

Vasari erroneously represents Maso Finiguerra as having been the first inventor of the art of engraving (using that word in its popular sense of taking impressions on paper from designs en graved on metal plates). In the last years of the i8th century Vasari's account of Finiguerra's invention was held to have re ceived a decisive and startling confirmation. There was in the baptistery at Florence (now in the Bargello) a 15th century niello pax of the Coronation of the Virgin. The Abate Gori, a connois seur of the mid-century, had claimed this conjecturally for the work of Finiguerra; a later virtuoso, the Abate Zani, discovered first, in the collection of Count Seratti at Leghorn, a sulphur cast from the same niello (this cast is now in the British Museum), and then, in the National library at Paris, a paper impression cor responding to both. This he proclaimed was proof positive of Vasari's accuracy.

Zani's famous discovery is now discredited among serious stu dents. It has been proved that the art of printing from engraved copper-plates had been known in Germany, and probably in Italy also, for years before the date of Finiguerra's alleged invention. Further, Maso's pax for the baptistery, if Cellini is to be trusted, represented not a Coronation of the Virgin but a Crucifixion, whose recorded weight does not agree with that of the pax claimed by Gori and Zani to be his. Again all records agree in representing Finiguerra as a close associate of Antonio Pollaiuolo. Nothing is more unlike their special style than the style of the Coronation pax, the designer of which must obviously have been trained in quite a different school, namely, that of Filippo Lippi. So this identification has to be abandoned. The only fully authenticated specimens of Finiguerra's work which exist are the above-men tioned tarsia figures, over half life-size, executed from his cartoons for the sacristy of the duomo. But his hand has lately been con jecturally recognized in a set of drawings of the school of Pollai uolo at the Uffizi, some of which are inscribed "Maso Finiguerra" in a 17th century writing, probably that of Baldinucci; and in a very curious and important book of nearly 10o drawings by the same hand, acquired in 1888 for the British Museum. The hand is that of a draughtsman of the school of Pollaiuolo, some of whose drawings bear an ancient attribution to Finiguerra, while all agree with what is otherwise known of him, and one or two are exactly repeated in extant works of niello, the craft which was peculiarly his own; others being intimately related to the earliest or all but the earliest works of Florentine engraving, the kindred craft which tradition avers him to have practised, and which Vasari erroneously believed him to have invented. Surely, it has been argued, this draughtsman must be no other than Finiguerra.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.—See Bandinelli in Bottari, Raccolta di lettere Bibliography.—See Bandinelli in Bottari, Raccolta di lettere (1754), i., P. 75; Vasari (ed. Milanesi), i, p. 209, iii., p. 206; Ben venuto Cellini, I Trattati dell' orificeria, etc. (ed. Lemonnier), pp. 7, 12, 13, 14 ; Zani, Materiali per servire, etc. (1802) ; Duchesne, Essai sur les nielles (1824) ; Baldinucci, Notizie dei pro f essori di disegno , j., PP. 518, 533 ; Dutuit, Manuel de l'amateur d'estampes, vol. i. pref. and vol. ii. (1884) ; and for a full discussion of the whole question, Sidney Colvin, A Florentine Picture Chronicle (1898) ; C. Lewis Hind, Catalogue of Early Italian Engravings in the British Museum (Ig1o).

pax, niello, florentine, pollaiuolo, agree, coronation and drawings