Essay on The Renaissance Paintings of Fra Angelico

Essay on The Renaissance Paintings of Fra Angelico

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The Renaissance Paintings of Fra Angelico


It seems fitting that for more than a century, the popular image of an angel has been that of an angel by Angelico. As historian Pope-Hennessy tells us - "the idiom he evolved has come to be regarded as the natural language of religious painting". (1) The impetus to research Fra Angelico's life comes from a deep respect for religious art . However, having grown up in the Catholic Church, stained glass windows and sculptures of religious figures were more familiar to me than religious paintings. An in-depth look at the life of one of the most familiar Italian artists was very appealing . Angelico's work was very well known in his own day, and throughout the entire Renaissance period it lost none of its luster and none of its influence over artists and art lovers. (2)

Little is known about the details of this humble man's life. The sparse biographical data which has come down through the centuries offers only some landmarks. The following pieces of information provide only a basis for inference: entries in ledgers regarding the payment of sums owed for commissions; the dates at which the edificies for which they were intended such as churches or chapels are known to have been built and the dates at which those who commisioned works took office or died. It would be interesting to have details of his early family life or some of his own writings as are available for many contemporary artists. Some of Vasari's writings about Angelico are somewhat romantic and often quoted by other historians such as one who states that the saints painted by Fra Angelico seemed more saintly than other painters (3). As well, Vasari tells us that Fra Angelico was a simple man, most holy in his habits, most...


... middle of paper ...


...s own, and with a total committment to his spiritual vision, he gave expression to the new movement -- the rinascimento -- of his time." (11)

(1) John Pope-Hennessy, Fra Angelico (Phaidon Publishers Inc. London 1952) 1

(2) Jacqueline and Maurice Guillard, Fra Angelico The Light of the Soul (Crown Publishers Inc. 1986) 5

(3) Steffi Roettgen, Italian Frescoes The Early Renaissance (Abbeville Press Publishers NY 1996) 208

(4) Pope-Hennessy, Fra Angelico, 1

(5) Guillard, Fra Angelico The Light of the Soul, 33

(6) Roettgen, Italian Frescoes The Early Renaissance, 208

(7) Roettgen, Italian Frescoes The Early Renaissance, 208-9

(8) Roettgen, Italian Frescoes The Early Renaissance, 208

(9)Guillard, Fra Angelico The Light of the Soul, 6

(10) Guillard ,Fra Angelico The Light of the Soul, 19

(11) Guillard, Fra Angelico The Light of the Soul, 36

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