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Grupo cantosdelmundo-2020

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Denis Gavrilov
Denis Gavrilov

Fra Angelico: The Angelic Painter of the Early Renaissance (Newnes' Art Library)



Fra Angelico: The Angelic Painter of the Early Renaissance




If you have ever visited Florence, you may have seen some of the most beautiful paintings of the Early Renaissance in the convent of San Marco. These paintings were made by a Dominican friar named Fra Angelico, who was also known as the "Angelic Painter" for his serene and luminous style. Fra Angelico was one of the greatest painters of the 15th century, whose works embody a harmonious blend of religious devotion and artistic innovation. In this article, we will explore his life, his works, and his legacy.




Fra Angelico (Newnes' art library)



Early life and training




Fra Angelico was born around 1400 in a small village near Fiesole, in the republic of Florence. His original name was Guido di Pietro, but nothing is known about his parents or his childhood. He was baptized Guido, but as a child he was probably called Guidolino ("Little Guido"). The earliest record of him as a painter dates from 1417, when he joined a religious confraternity at the Carmine Church in Florence. He was paid for some paintings he made for the church of Santo Stefano del Ponte in 1418.


Between 1420 and 1422, he became a Dominican friar and moved to the priory of San Domenico at Fiesole. There he changed his name to Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John of Fiesole), but he was also called Fra Giovanni Angelico (Angelic Brother John) by his contemporaries. He took his vows as a Dominican in 1423. As a friar, he was influenced by the teachings of Giovanni Dominici, a reformer who defended traditional spirituality against humanism. He was also inspired by St. Antoninus Pierozzi, who became the archbishop of Florence and who may have suggested some of his compositions.


According to the biographer Giorgio Vasari, Fra Angelico was trained by Lorenzo Monaco, a painter and miniaturist of the Gothic tradition. His influence can be seen in Fra Angelico's delicate and luminous style, which seems to spiritualize his figures. Some of his early works that show this style are the Madonna of the Star and The Annunciation.


San Domenico period




Fra Angelico lived and worked in San Domenico from 1420 to 1436. During this period, he painted several altarpieces and panels for churches and convents in Florence and Fiesole. He also collaborated with other artists, such as Lorenzo Ghiberti, Masaccio, Masolino, Filippo Lippi, and Zanobi Strozzi.


Some of his notable paintings from this period are:



  • The Coronation of the Virgin (1424-1434), an altarpiece for San Domenico that shows the Virgin Mary crowned by Christ and surrounded by angels and saints.



  • The Linaiuoli Altarpiece (1433-1434), a triptych for the guild of linen weavers that depicts the Virgin and Child with Saints and Angels, the Martyrdom of St. Mark, and the Predella of the Linaiuoli.



  • The Deposition (1434), a panel for the Strozzi Chapel in Santa Trinita that portrays the scene of Christ's body being taken down from the cross.



  • The Annalena Altarpiece (1434-1435), a polyptych for the convent of Annalena that illustrates the Virgin and Child with Saints, the Crucifixion, and the Last Judgment.



In these paintings, Fra Angelico developed his style and technique, using bright colors, gold backgrounds, linear perspective, and naturalistic details. He also showed his mastery of light and shade, creating a sense of depth and volume. He was influenced by the innovations of the Early Renaissance, but he also maintained a sense of grace and harmony in his compositions.


San Marco period




In 1436, Fra Angelico moved to San Marco, a convent in Florence that had been renovated by Cosimo de' Medici, the ruler of Florence and a patron of the arts. There he lived and worked until 1445, painting a series of frescoes and altarpieces for the church and the priory. These works are considered his masterpieces, as they express his spirituality and humanism in a sublime way.


Some of his famous frescoes and altarpieces from this period are:



  • The San Marco Altarpiece (1438-1443), a large altarpiece for the main altar of the church that depicts the Virgin and Child with Saints in a realistic space.



  • The Annunciation (c. 1438-1445), a fresco on the upper wall of the entrance corridor that shows the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus.



  • The Crucifixion with Saints (c. 1441-1442), a fresco on the chapter house wall that portrays Christ on the cross with Mary, John, Dominic, and other saints.



  • The Noli Me Tangere (c. 1440-1442), a fresco on the wall of cell 1 that depicts Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection.



  • The Mocking of Christ (c. 1440-1441), a fresco on the wall of cell 7 that illustrates Christ being mocked by soldiers before his crucifixion.



In these works, Fra Angelico showed his ability to create simple and powerful images that convey his faith and emotion. He used soft colors, gentle light, expressive gestures, and serene faces to create a sense of intimacy and devotion. He also incorporated elements of classical art, such as architectural forms, geometric shapes, and human proportions. He was one of the first artists to paint frescoes in individual cells, creating a personal connection between the viewer and the scene.


Later years and death




After 1445, Fra Angelico traveled and worked in various places in Italy. He was invited by Pope Eugenius IV to Rome, where he painted some frescoes in the Vatican Palace, such as The Chapel of Nicholas V (1447-1449) and The Last Judgment (c. 1450). He also worked in Orvieto, where he painted some scenes from The Life of Christ (1447) in the cathedral. He returned to Florence in 1450, where he painted The Deposition for Santa Maria Novella (c. 1450) and The Madonna della Stella for San Marco (c. 1450).


He died in Rome on February 18, 1455, while working on another commission for Pope Nicholas V. He was buried in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, where his tombstone 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 are done through charity not by skill alone." He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1982 and is celebrated as a saint by the Dominican Order on February 18.


Conclusion




inspired many later artists, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Botticelli.


Fra Angelico was not only a painter, but also a saint. He lived a life of holiness and humility, dedicating his art to the glory of God and the service of his fellow friars. He once said: "He who does Christ's work must stay with Christ always." He was a true angelic painter, who used his brush as a tool of prayer and contemplation.


FAQs





Question


Answer


What does Fra Angelico mean?


Fra Angelico means "Angelic Brother" in Italian. It was a nickname given to him by his contemporaries for his piety and grace.


What is Fra Angelico's real name?


Fra Angelico's real name was Guido di Pietro. He changed his name to Fra Giovanni da Fiesole when he became a Dominican friar.


Where can I see Fra Angelico's paintings?


You can see Fra Angelico's paintings in various museums and churches in Italy, especially in Florence, Rome, and Orvieto. Some of his paintings are also in other countries, such as France, Spain, England, and the United States.


What is Fra Angelico's most famous painting?


Fra Angelico's most famous painting is probably The Annunciation, a fresco on the wall of the entrance corridor of San Marco in Florence. It shows the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus.


How did Fra Angelico influence other artists?


Fra Angelico influenced other artists by his use of perspective, light, color, and composition. He also inspired them by his expression of spirituality and humanism in his art.


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