Diane Cohl Ahl
Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (c. 1390/95-1455), known as Fra Angelico, was possibly the most celebrated religious painter of the Italian Early Renaisance. Adhering to the austere life of a Dominican monastery despite his huge success, Fra Angelico's contemporary biographer Giorgio Vasari said of him 'it is impossible to bestow too much praise on this holy father, who was so humble and modest in all that he did and said and whose pictures were painted with such facility and piety.' Originally trained as an illuminator, Fra Angelico went on to paint altarpieces that even early on in his career showed great skill in the rendering of the figures, composition and use of colour. Perhaps his most famous works however are the astonishing frescos that decorate the cells, corridors and Chapter House of San Marco Monastery in Florence, to where Fra Angelico moved in 1436 along with many of the monks from the Fiesole monastery in which they had been living.A magnificent altarpiece was also among the commissions for the newly built monastery, which showed an unprecedented realism in the intimate arrangement of the holy figures.Diane Cole Ahl's engaging text is combined with almost 200 images to create a book that is both informative and visually stunning. The works are discussed in detail, in the context of the time and places in which they were created, and Fra Angelico's influence, both directly on his pupils such as Benozzo Gozzoli, and more wide-ranging on the artists that followed in the later Renaissance, is also examined. The original viewpoints of the author and the hitherto unpublished artwork of a newly restored predella ensure that Fra Angelico will appeal to the specialised reader as well as students and those with an interest in art history.
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