Tuesday, 12 April 2011

M/M Fra Angelico (Metropolitan Museum of Arts Series)

Image courtesy of the author. All rights reserved.

Review by Nicola Linza
This beautiful book, published in conjunction with the first major exhibition of Fra Angelico's work since the cinquecentenary exhibition of 1955 in Florence, features more than seventy paintings, drawings, and manuscript illuminations covering all periods of the artist's career, from round 1410 to 1455. Also included are fifty selected works by his assistants and closest followers.

Fra Angelico ("the angelic friar"; ca. 1390/95-1455) was one of Renaissance Florence's leading painters. In addition to his celebrated altarpieces and frescos in Florence, Fiesole, Cortona, Perugia, and Rome, Fra Angelico also completed many masterpieces on a small scale. His predella panels, the small narrative scenes included beneath large altarpieces, are among the most innovative creations in fifteenth century Florence, while his images of the Virgin and Child still retain the inspirational immediacy and presence that first secured the artist's reputation as the premier painter of his age.

This book is an up-to-date, and comprehensive, look at the sublime works of one of Renaissance Italy's greatest masters. Research undertaken in the last fifty years now allows scholars to reconstruct a more historically reliable biography of Fra Angelico that goes beyond the legends and traditions to establish his position not only as one of the greatest masters of the fifteenth century, but also as one of the most intellectually accomplished painters who ever lived.