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Fra Giovanni Angelico, 1387-1455.
Florentine School, Fra Giovanni da Fiesole, called Il Beato Angelico. Many of his best works are frescoes at Cortona, the Convent of San Marco at Florence, and the Vatican.
LONDON, NATIONAL GALLERY
CHRIST SURROUNDED BY ANGELS, PATRIARCHS, SAINTS, AND MARTYRS Five compartments In the centre, Christ holding the Banner of the Resurrection in the midst of a choir of angels, some blowing trumpets and others playing various musical instruments. On the two sides are kneeling great crowds of the Blessed, including the Madonna, the Apostles, the Patriarchs, the Prophets, and the Saints and Martyrs of either sex. At the extreme ends are the Blessed or Beati of the Order of the Dominicans in their black robes. Altogether there are 266 figures or portions of figures, many with their names attached. " So beautiful [says Vasari], that they appear to be truly beings of Paradise." Formerly the predella to an altar-piece which still remains in the Church of San Domenico, Fiesole.
Purchased in 1860 for L3,500 from Signor Valentini, to whose uncle the monks of the convent had sold it before 1820.
THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN A large altar-piece painted for the Church of San Domenico at Fiesole. In the centre, at the top of a flight of marble steps, the Almighty, seated under a canopy, places a crown on the head of the Virgin, who kneels at His left side. Standing on the stepson either side are numerous angels playing on musical instruments. In the foreground in front of the steps are ranged, in two main groups, a number of Apostles and Saints; amongst those on the left are St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Nicholas; and on the right St. Mary Magdalenc, St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Agnes, and St. Clare.
On the predella are painted seven subjects from the life of 5t. Dominic. " In Vasari's eyes the finest altar-piece in the Church of Fiesolc . . , the Paradise is truly beautiful; and the delicacy and gentleness of the faces are undeniable. The magnificent predella contains the same subjects as that of the pediment from San Domenico in the Oratorio del Gesu at Cortona" (C. and C.)
THE ANNUNCIATION. Two slender pillars, supporting the circular vaulting of a cloister, divide the composition into three equal parts. In the centre and on the right, under the vaulting, are Gabriel and Mary; on the left, a view of Adam and Eve expelled from Eden. Gabriel, in a long pleated robe, his wings uplifted, bends towards Mary, who is seated, with a curtain at her back, on the extreme right, receiving the message with bent head and hands crossed on her breast.
The predella is divided into five compartments, painted with scenes from the life of the Virgin.
Painted for the Church of San Domenico, Fiesole (where Vasari saw it), and purchased in 1611 by the Duke Mario Farnese for the Duke of Lerma. Acquired by the Prado from the Carmelites in Madrid in 1861. It is very similar to that in the Oratorio del Gesil at Cortona.
A TABERNACLE WITH TWO SHUTTERS. Centre
On the central panel is a figure of the Virgin above life size, with the Child standing on her knee in a brown robe, His right hand blessing and His left holding a globe. Twelve little angels playing on different instruments are painted all round. On the shutters, when opened, are seen on either side 5t. Mark and St. John the Baptist, and St. Mark with St. Peter. On the predella (which measures 0.34 x 1.68) are, in three compartments, St. Peter preaching, the adoration of the Kings, and the martyrdom of St. Mark.
Painted in 1433 for the Association of Flax Weavers. Removed to the Ufizi in 1777.
THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN. A splendid composition of many figures of Saints round a central group consisting of the Saviour in the act of crowning the Virgin amidst a glory of angels. Three panels forming the predella to this altar-piece (which was painted for the Church of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence) are also in the Uffizi Gallery-The Marriage of the Virgin (No. 1178), The Death of the Virgin (No. 1184), and The Birth of St. John the Baptist (No. 1162).
" A masterpiece, magnificently composed, and in which the purest ideal is maintained. The Marriage of the Virgin is one of the greatest compositions of the master, uniting to all the Giottesque qualities the perfect softness and feeling of Fra Angelico; equally fine are the other parts of the predella." (C. and C.)