Fra Angelico

Hi everyone! This week I would like to discuss an artist that I have actually studied in class, and I have also seen his artworks during my time in Italy. This artist’s name is Fra Angelico. His real name is Guido di Pietro, but when he becomes a Dominican friar in Italy, his name was changed to Fra Giovanni Angelico. He is a Early Renaissance artist.

For a large part of his life, Angelico lived in San Marco, which is in Florence. For the study abroad trip that I went on, I had the chance to see part of the monastery that is now a museum with Angelico’s artwork in it, and the Basilica of San Marco.

These are first things you see when you enter the church and the monastery:

When I visited the Museum of San Marco, the second fresco that saw was the Crucifixion with Saints created in 1441.


With this scene, we see the depiction of the Crucifixion of Christ. We have the three Crosses, Christ in the middle, along with Mary, a few women, most like Mary Magdalene and another Mary, and John the Evangelist. However, unlike the real event, Fra Angelico has incorporated a variety of different Saints into this fresco who were not present at this event.

From the left (leading to the cross) the saints are depicted as Cosmas and Damian, Lawrence, Mark, John the Baptist, Mary, other women, and most likely, John the Evangelist. On the right (leading towards the cross) kneeling are Dominic, Jerome, Francis, Bernard, John Gualberto, and Peter the Martyr. From the right standing are Zanobi or Ambrose, Augustin, Benedict, Romuald, and Thomas of Aquino. On the frame of the fresco, we see ten depictions of prophets, while on the bottom frame, there are 17 representations of men from the order that Angelico was in (

An interesting technique that Angelico included in this work is Alberti’s window. On the left, Angelico used St. Mark as a tool to invite the viewer into this artwork. St. Mark is staring directly at the viewer, and he is also gesturing to a book, which is most likely the Gospels that he wrote on the life of Christ. This interaction with the viewers makes it known to us that Angelico wanted us to participate in the mourning of Christ through this fresco.

Lastly, when looking at the figure of Mary, we can see that her position is similar to that of Christ on the Cross; Mary has her hands up as though she was also on the Cross. This is a representation of one of the Seven Sorrows Mary has suffered in her life. This particular Sorrow represents the pain she went through when her son had died for us.

All images were taken by me except the feature image which is from

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