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Dictionary of World Biography
Masaccio (‘clumsy’, nickname of Tommaso
Guidi) (1401?-1428). Italian painter, born in San
Giovanni Valdarno. He lived and worked mostly in
Florence until he went (1427) to Rome where he
died. He probably derived from his contemporary
*Brunelleschi much of the knowledge of perspective
and space revealed in his pictures. In particular he
mastered tonal perspective, by which an appearance
of depth is achieved by gradations of colour. He is
also said to have been the first to light his pictures
at a constant angle from a single point of origin.
The figures are solidly and realistically conceived
and belong naturally to their surroundings. His
finest work is generally held to be the frescoes in the
Brancacci Chapel of the Carmelite Church, Florence,
but the fact that he worked in collaboration with
Masolino has caused an acute artistic controversy as
to the part played by each. The finest of Masaccio’s
undisputed works include the Expulsion from Paradise
and Tribute to Caesar. Masaccio is ranked as one of
the greatest figures in Renaissance art between Giotto
and Leonardo da Vinci.
Salmi, M., Masaccio. 1948.
Czechoslovakian politician, writer and academic.
Son of a Slovak coachman, he studied sociology and
philosophy at Vienna University and in 1882 took up
a professorship at the re-established Czech University
at Prague, and wrote several books on philosophy,
sociology and Slav nationalism. Meanwhile, in
Brooklyn (1878) he married an American, Charlotte
Garrigue, whose name he adopted. In 1891 he was
first elected to the Reichsrat and though he resigned
in 1893 he gradually became recognised as the
spokesman of all the Slav minorities in the AustroHungarian Empire. He was re-elected to parliament
in 1907 but when World War I broke out (1914) he at
once saw it as an opportunity to obtain independence
for the subject peoples. In December 1914 he escaped
to Italy and in one country after another, Switzerland,
France, Britain, Russia and the US, pressed his cause.
He organised a Czech national council in Paris (1916)
and in May 1917 went to Russia to build up a Czech
Legion (mainly from prisoners of war). After the
Bolshevik Revolution the Legion reached the Pacific
via Siberia and reached America where Masaryk
awaited it.
At last (June 1918) the governments of Great Britain,
France and the US recognised Czechoslovakia as an
independent ally, with Masaryk as the government’s
provisional head. In December with the AustroHungarian regime collapsed around him, Masaryk
returned triumphantly as President Liberator of the
new state of Czechoslovakia. As President 1918–
35, his wisdom and liberality of mind inspired the
growth of Czechoslovakia as the most prosperous and
progressive country of the new Europe. He retired at
the age of 85 and was succeeded by Eduard *Beneš.
The shadow of *Hitler was already looming when he
died but it was upon his son Jan Masaryk (1886–
1948) that the darkness fell. He was Czechoslovak
Minister in London from 1925 until 1938, when he
resigned after the Munich agreement. In World War
II he was Foreign Minister in the government in exile
established in England and was still holding that office
when, after Germany’s defeat (1945), the government
returned to France. A fortnight after the Communists
(February 1948) seized control, Jan Masaryk allegedly
committed suicide in a fall from a window of the
Foreign Office.
Birley, R., Thomas Masaryk. 1951.
Mascagni, Pietro (1863–1945). Italian composer.
After abandoning law he became famous with the
one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana (1890). This, a
brutal and melodramatic treatment of a subject drawn
from working-class life, established the style of Italian
opera known as verismo. None of his later operas, e.g.
L’Amico Fritz (1891) and La Maschera (1901), won
the same celebrity.
Masefield, John Edward (1878–1967). English poet
and novelist, born in Herefordshire. After an unhappy
childhood, he was a merchant seaman 1889–97,
discovered poetry and after intense reading (and
marriage to a teacher) began composing poetry himself.
Some of his finest poems and stories are concerned
with the sea. Salt Water Ballads (1902) was followed
by the long narrative poem The Everlasting Mercy
(1911), Reynard the Fox (1919) and Right Royal (1920).
His prose works include a memoir of the Gallipoli
campaign, several novels, e.g. Sard Harker (1924) and
literary studies. He succeeded Robert *Bridges as Poet
Laureate 1930–67 and received the OM (1935).
Babington-Smith, C., John Masefield. 1978.
Masinissa (Massinissa) (c.238–149 BCE). King of
Numidia. His state (roughly modern Algeria) was a
vassal of Carthage. He transferred his allegiance to
Rome during the Second Punic War (206) and his
cavalry carried out the decisive charge at the Battle of
Zama when *Hannibal was defeated. His kingdom
grew strong and prosperous. In 150 a Carthaginian
attack on Numidia, then the ally of Rome, led to the
Third Punic War.
Maslow, Abraham Harold (1908–1970). American
psychologist and educator. His text book Motivation
and Personality (1954) identified a ‘hierarchy of needs’
in human development and has been influential in
Masolino da Panicale (c.1383–1447). Italian painter.
He assisted *Ghiberti and may have taught *Masaccio,
with whom he collaborated and by whose techniques
he was much influenced. His most important works
are the frescoes rediscovered (1843) under whitewash
at Castiglione d’Olona. The frescoes in San Clemente
at Rome have also been attributed to him.