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Thomas Tolley

(b Padua, c. 1395; d Padua, after May 1468).

Italian painter, teacher, draughtsman and printmaker. He is a controversial figure. His mediocre qualities as a painter are less contentious than his role as the head of a school for painters, possibly the earliest private establishment devoted to teaching painting and distinct from the workshop system of instruction through apprenticeships.

Having been recorded as a tailor and embroiderer, Squarcione is first referred to as a painter in 1426, when he executed an altarpiece (untraced) for the Olivetan monastery at Venda, south of Padua. He was then living near the Santo in Padua, where he later established his school. Soon after completing this altarpiece, Squarcione left Padua. According to Scardeone, who knew Squarcione’s lost autobiography, he travelled throughout Italy and Greece (i.e. the Byzantine empire). After returning to Padua, Squarcione took on his first pupil, Michele di Bartolommeo, in 1431. Apart from a Crucifixion (untraced), completed in 1439 for a Venetian patron, he undertook few commissions at this time. His purchase in ...