Fra Angelico: A Master of Early Renaissance Painting
Fra Angelico was an Italian painter who lived in the 15th century and is considered one of the most influential artists of the early Renaissance. He was known for his religious paintings, especially his frescoes in the convent of San Marco in Florence, where he was a Dominican friar. He was also a skilled illuminator and produced many manuscripts with exquisite miniatures.
Fra Angelico was born Guido di Pietro around 1395 in a village near Fiesole, in Tuscany. He joined a religious confraternity at the Carmine Church in Florence in 1417, where he received his first artistic training as an illuminator. He later became a Dominican friar and changed his name to Fra Giovanni da Fiesole, or Fra Giovanni Angelico, meaning \"Brother John the Angelic\". He was also called \"Beato Angelico\" or \"Blessed Angelic One\" by his contemporaries and later by the Catholic Church, which beatified him in 1982.
Fra Angelico's style was influenced by the Sienese School of painting, as well as by the innovations of Masaccio, Brunelleschi and Donatello. He combined a naturalistic approach to light, perspective and anatomy with a graceful and elegant use of color and line. His paintings are characterized by a serene and devout expression of the Christian faith, as well as by a rich and harmonious decoration. He often used gold and lapis lazuli to create luminous effects.
Some of his most famous works include the Annunciation fresco at San Marco, the San Marco Altarpiece, the Coronation of the Virgin, the Last Judgment and the Deposition of Christ. He also painted portraits of popes, saints and other religious figures. He worked in various cities in Italy, such as Florence, Rome, Orvieto and Cortona. He died in Rome on February 18, 1455 and was buried in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
Fra Angelico's art has been admired and praised by many artists and critics throughout history. Vasari, in his Lives of the Artists, wrote that he had \"a rare and perfect talent\" and that he painted with \"such facility and piety\". He also influenced many painters of his own and later generations, such as Benozzo Gozzoli, Antoniazzo Romano, Filippo Lippi and Michelangelo.
A book about Fra Angelico's life and work was published in 1907 by Newnes' Art Library, a series of illustrated monographs on famous artists. The book was written by Edgcumbe Staley, an English journalist and author who specialized in art history. The book contains 48 reproductions of Fra Angelico's paintings, as well as a biographical sketch and a critical analysis of his style and achievements.
Fra Angelico's most famous and influential works are the frescoes he painted for the convent of San Marco in Florence, where he lived from 1436 to 1445. The convent had been rebuilt and enlarged by Cosimo de' Medici, the ruler of Florence, who entrusted Fra Angelico with the decoration of the walls and ceilings. The frescoes depict scenes from the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary and various saints, as well as images of angels and prophets. They are remarkable for their simplicity, clarity and emotional intensity, as well as for their innovative use of perspective and architectural space. They also reflect Fra Angelico's deep devotion and personal vision of the Christian message. He painted each cell of the friars with a different scene, creating a spiritual atmosphere for meditation and prayer. One of the most famous cells is number 3, where he painted the Annunciation, a scene of the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus. The painting is considered a masterpiece of early Renaissance art, for its harmonious composition, realistic details and sublime expression of grace and humility.
Fra Angelico also worked in Rome, where he was summoned by Pope Eugene IV in 1445. He painted frescoes for the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament in the Vatican Palace, which are now lost. He also painted some panels for the high altar of the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, where he depicted scenes from the life of St. Dominic, the founder of his order. He also designed the frescoes for the Niccoline Chapel in the Vatican Palace, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V. The frescoes depict scenes from the lives of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence, two martyrs of the early Christian church. They are notable for their dramatic realism, vivid colors and expressive gestures. They may have been executed partly or wholly by his assistants, such as Benozzo Gozzoli and Zanobi Strozzi.
Fra Angelico also traveled to other cities in Italy, such as Orvieto and Cortona, where he painted altarpieces and frescoes for various churches. He was admired and respected by his patrons and fellow artists, who praised his skill and piety. He died in Rome on February 18, 1455 and was buried in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. His tombstone bears an epitaph that reads: \\\"When singing my praise, don't liken my talents to those of Apelles. Say rather that, in the name of Christ, I gave all I had to the poor. The deeds that count on Earth are not the ones that count in Heaven. I, Giovanni, am the flower of Tuscany.\\\"  ec8f644aee