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Comparative Civilizations 12 K.J. Benoy. Fra Angelico.

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Fra angelico
Fra Angelico

  • “He was kind to other people and moderate, lived chastely and far from the temptations of this world. He would often say that anyone practising the art of painting needed a quiet and untroubled life, and that the man who portrayed the words of Christ should live with Christ. In short, this monk cannot be praised highly enough, for he was humble and modest in every word and deed, and skillful and reverent in his paintings. The saints which he portrayed resembled true saints more closely than those done by any other artist.”

    • Giorgio Vasari, 1568

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Fra Angelico

  • Fra Angelico was born Guidolino di Pietro, around 1395 in Vicchio di Mugello.

  • He died in Rome in 1455.

  • He became a Dominican monk and remained one for most of his life. He took the name Giovanni da Fiesole, but is now known to all as Fra Angelico – “Brother Angel.”

  • He was a contemporary of Brunelleschi, Donatello and Masaccio.

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Fiesoli, the Tuscan hillside town where Fra Angelic first worked.

Fra Angelico

  • His work was a product of his life as a monk.

  • Painting was his vocation and his works were created to adorn churches and monasteries.

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Fra Angelico worked.

  • His earliest paintings were probably manuscript illumination.

  • Fra Angelico’s brother, who entered monastic life with him, was a scribe.

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Fra Angelico worked.

  • At Fiesoli he produced his first known works.

    • An altarpiece for the high altar.

    • The Annunciateion (now in the Prado).

    • The Coronation of the Virgin (Now in the Louvre).

    • …and numerous frescoes in the chapter room and convent.

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Fra Angelico worked.

  • Fra Angelico is a Renaissance painter, but he continued to employ more traditional techniques.

  • His use of perspective is still in the Byzantine tradition of inverse perspective, placing the viewer as the point of view of the figures in the icon - instead of the other way around. The intent is to place the viewer in divine, not human, space.

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Fra Angelico worked.

  • In another work, his Deposition, we see a painting that owes much to Masaccio in terms of its presentation of subjects and space.

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Noli mi Tangere worked.

Fra Angelico

  • H.W. Janson describes Fra Angelico’s art as “…something of a paradox. The deeply reverential attitude presents an admixture of traditional Gothic piety and Renaissance grandeur bestilled by contemplative calm.”

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Fra Angelico worked.

  • His St. Nicholas of Bari depicts two miracles of the saint, who appears twice – as a saint in the sky above and thanking a merchant in the bottom left of the painting.

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Fra Angelico worked.

  • Fra Angelico uses perspective in places in this painting, while ignoring it elsewhere. See the bowsprit of the ship. Also note how light, which gives spatial depth, strikes the figures from the front left, and the mountains from the rear left.

  • Figures are shown in tremendous detail, while the landscape is given in simplified form.

  • Curiously, the painting works, regardless of these oddities.

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The Transfiguration worked.

Fra Angelico

  • In 1436 he and his Dominican brothers moved to San Marco, in Florence.

  • Here, some of his most famous works adorn the monks’ cells.

  • These were intended to assist in prayer.

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The Decapitation of Saints Cosmas and Damian worked.

Fra Angelico

  • Other hugely important works adorn the altarpiece.

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The Ordination of St. Lawrence worked.

Fra Angelico

  • His fame brought him commissions from two popes. – Eugenius and Nicholas.

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Christ in Majesty worked.

Fra Angelico

  • Other important works were commissioned for the cathedral of Orvieto, in Italy.

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Fra Angelico worked.

  • Above all, Fra Angelico is known for the quiet serenity of his works.

  • This quiet, good man, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

  • The Roman Catholic Church celebrates February 18 as his feast day – commemorating his death in 1455.

Fra angelico

Finis worked.