Tomasso (Maso) FINIGUERRA

Florence 1426 - Florence 1464


The Florentine draughtsman, goldsmith and engraver Maso Finiguerra was the son and grandson of goldsmiths. He trained with his father until around 1457, and as an independent artist gained a number of important commissions and enjoyed the patronage of such Florentine collectors as Giovanni Rucellai. He was best known as a maker of nielli; a kind of engraving on small silver plates or objects, in which the incised lines were filled with a black mixture of sulphur, silver and lead, creating an image that contrasted with the polished silver surround, and which could also be recorded as printed impressions. During his lifetime, the artist was praised in Antonio Filarete’s Trattato dell’architettura, written between 1457 and 1464, as one of the finest goldsmiths in Italy, while also excelling in the niello technique. Finiguerra is also mentioned by Giorgio Vasari, writing a century later, who notes that he ‘had an extraordinary fame, and deservedly, since there had never been seen any master of engraving and of niello who could make so great a number of figures as he could, whether in a small or in a large space.’ Finiguerra is also known to have provided designs for wooden intarsia panels, notably for the sacristy of the Duomo in Florence. Although he died in his late thirties, his influence is evident in the work of later Florentine draughtsmen and engravers.