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Fra Angelico 

Fra Giovanni Angelico Da Fiesole (Vicchio Florence, circa 1395 – Rome February 18, 1445), better known as Fra Angelico (the "Angelic Brother") or Beato Angelico ("Blessed Angelic") was a famous 15th-century painter-brother in Florence at the time of the Italian Renaissance . His life was described in Le Vite (Dutch: De Levens ) by Giorgio Vasari. Among his best-known works are the frescoes he made in the San Marco Monastery in Florence . He was beatified in 1982 by Pope John Paul II. His feast day falls on February 18.

Fra Angelico worked in a period when the style of painting was changing dramatically, the early Renaissance. This period was initiated by Giotto, among others. Guido di Pietro must certainly have known The Life of Saint Francis in Santa Croce in Florence. Giotto's figures were much more real and lifelike than those of other painters from the early 14th century, they gave rise to more realism in Gothic painting. Giotto was also a master at portraying emotions and the painters who encountered his work were undoubtedly very impressed.

At the same time, the 'international Gothic' was still fashionable and popular with wealthy clients. Painting with brilliant colors on a background of gold leaf was still popular and enthusiastically practiced by Fra Angelico's contemporaries, but others including Tommaso Masaccio worked in Giotto's style.

Fra Angelico was a master of both styles. If a wealthy client wanted a panel or fresco in the brilliant International Gothic style, he got it, but in his most famous and beautiful works he used the style of Giotto and Masaccio. When Masaccio died in 1428, Fra Angelico was one of the few painters of his time who fully understood Masaccio's innovations in naturalism and perspective. Fra Angelico's Descent from the Cross painted around 1434 is one of the first successful Italian attempts to place a group of people in a landscape. Fra Angelico is a master in reconciling late medieval International Gothic with the achievements of the early Renaissance. His works – on panel and in fresco – are strongly religious in nature due to the spirituality of the creator, the subject and the place for which they were intended.

It is not known who his direct teachers were, but he received his training in Florence from Lorenzo Monaco and Gherardo Starmina. From the first he adopted the use of bright and unnatural colors and the bright light that dissolves the shadows and gives a mystical atmosphere to the sacred scenes he paints. His training as a miniaturist, a strict discipline, strongly influenced his later works.

Fra Angelico created a total of 135 works: miniatures, paintings (including triptychs) and frescoes. Although the same basic notes are present, there are many differences because his craftsmanship developed during his life. It is not known whether he received any education in his younger years. After he and his brother with the monastic name Benedetto joined the Dominicans in Fiesole, his actual career began.

In the monastery of Fiesole (1407-1409)

In his first monastic period as an oblate [9][10] Giovanni specialized in painting miniatures, some of which have been preserved in an altar missal, manuscript 558 in the Museo di San Marco in Florence. This concerns a historiated initial 'R' with a representation of The Message to Mary (7 × 7 cm) and a full-page miniature: The Glorification of Dominic (47.5 × 35 cm).

Stay at Foligno (1409-1414)

Due to a difference of opinion over the right to the papal throne between Gregory XII, Benedict There Fra Angelico came under the influence of Giotto and the School of Siena. He also worked under Lorenzo Monaco.

Stay in Cortona (1414-1418)

The plague epidemic in Foligno in 1414 forced the Dominicans to move to the monastery in Cortona, where Angelico stayed for four years. During this period Angelico made high-quality paintings.

Back in Fiesole (1418-1452)

Back in Fiesole he focused on refining his work. In 1436, Cosimo de' Medici donated the San Marco monastery complex in Florence, once inhabited by the Silvestrin Fathers, to the Dominicans. Cosimo funded the restoration of the church and monastery and the new construction of the library by architects Michelozzo (1396-1472) and Filippo Brunelleschi. Cosimo asked Fra Angelico to decorate the monastery complex with frescoes. To carry out this, Angelico moved to this convent in 1441 and worked with students on this assignment, which was completed in 1450. His work here concerns 44 frescoes for the cells (rooms) of the Dominicans with images from the life of Jesus. The chapter house (meeting room) and the refectory (dining room) also received frescoes. The monastery has a turbulent history with, among others, Girolamo Savonarola, prior of the convent, who was burned at the stake in May 1498. Florence came under the influence of the French family from Lorraine in the 18th century, until Napoleon III governed the city and, among other things, expropriated the San Marco monastery in 1860. The Dominicans had to leave the complex, which was elevated to a State Museum in 1859.

During this period, Fra Angelico received commissions from Popes and Piero de' Medici. An important client of Fra Angelico was Pope Eugene IV. In the autumn of 1445, he received a request from him to create frescoes in his private chapel in the Vatican Palace, dedicated to Saints Stephen and Laurentius. After the death of Eugene IV, Pope Nicholas V continued the assignment. In 1449 Angelico completed the work.

Pope Nicholas V commissioned him in 1447 to decorate the chapel of the Madonna di San Brizio in the cathedral of Orvieto. Angelico could not finish the work. Much later, Luca Signorelli completed it. In 1448, Piero de' Medici commissioned 35 panels to decorate the silver reliquary cabinet in the Church of the Annunciation in Florence. Fra Angelico provided nine panels (38.5 × 37 cm); 23 were made by another painter or perhaps in Angelico's workshop from his sketches. Alesso Baldovinetti made three. They are kept throughout museums.

Around 1450, Fra Angelico was elected prior of the San Domenico monastery in Fiesole, a position he held until June 1452. In the meantime he completed his assignments.

In Rome (1452-1455)

He then moved to the monastery at the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, where he died on February 18, 1455. He was buried under the floor of a side chapel. The marble tombstone, work of Isaiha da Pisa (1397-1464), depicts him in the habit and cloak of the Dominicans with an epitaph, probably by the hand of the humanist Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457) who has Fra Angelico saying: “O Christ, some of my works remain on earth, others in heaven. I saw the light of the world in the city of Florence, the flower of Etruria.”

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