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Title: Fra Angelico
Author: Supino, J. B.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fra Angelico" ***

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FRA ANGELICO

BY

J. B. SUPINO

TRANSLATED

BY

LEADER SCOTT.

FLORENCE

ALINARI BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS.

1902.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Printed by Barbéra--Alfani and Venturi, proprietors
Florence.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: The Annunciation. (Convent of San Marco, Florence)]



INDEX.


Beato Angelico--Proem                                        Page  5

I.--Fra Angelico at Cortona and Perugia (1409-1418)               29

II.--Fra Angelico at Fiesole (1418-1436)                          55

III.--Fra Angelico at Florence (1436-1445)                        93

          San Marco                                               95

          In the Gallery of Ancient and Modern Art               131

IV.--Fra Angelico at Rome and Orvieto (1445-1455)                155

Index to the Illustrations                                       179



[Illustration]

[Illustration: Angels of the "Last Judgement."]


Tradition shows us Fra Giovanni Angelico absorbed in his work, and
either caressing with his brush one of those graceful angelic figures
which have made him immortal, or reverently outlining the sweet image
of the Virgin before which he himself would kneel in adoration. Legend
pictures him devoutly prostrate in prayer before commencing work, that
his soul might be purified, and fitted to understand and render the
divine subject; and again in oration after leaving his easel, to thank
heaven for having given him power to make his holy visions visible to
other eyes.

But has tradition any foundation in fact? Why not? Through his
numberless works we may easily divine the soul of the artist, and can
well understand, how the calm and serene atmosphere of the monastic
cell, the church perfumed with incense, and the cloister vibrating
with psalms, would develop the mystic sentiment in such a mind.

And can we disregard tradition in face of such humility of life, such
beauty of work, exquisite refinement of feeling, and sweetness of
expression!

Among all the masters who have attempted to imbue the human form with
the divine spirit, he is perhaps the only one who succeeded in
producing pure celestial figures, and this with such marvellous
simplicity of line, that they have become the glory of his art.

Whether it be the Virgin enthroned amidst groups of cherubim sounding
heavenly trumpets, or Christ blessing the just and driving away
sinners; whether the martyrs supporting their torments with superhuman
resignation, the apostles preaching the gospel, or angels free in the
air and chanting celestial glories; the same spirit is in them all--at
once intense, devout, and utterly pure, in which the fervent believer
and the true artist are inseparably blended.

The reason is, that Fra Giovanni put into his work the flame of an
overpowering passion; under his touch features were beautified, and
figures animated with a new mystic grace. He threw himself entirely
into his art which thus became the spontaneous expression of his soul.
"It was the custom of Fra Giovanni," says Vasari, "to abstain from
retouching or improving any painting once finished. He altered
nothing, but left all as it was done the first time, believing, as he
said, that such was the will of God. It is also affirmed that he would
never take his pencil in hand until he had first offered a prayer. He
is said never to have painted a crucifix without tears streaming from
his eyes, and in the countenances and attitudes of his figures it is
easy to perceive proof of his sincerity, his goodness, and the depth
of his devotion to the religion of Christ."[1]

How this devout mind, full of the figurative sacred writings then
current, must have overflowed with visions, ecstasies and miracles!
And what tremors of awe must he have felt, in putting these visions
into colour! His Madonnas, their features suffused with candour and
humility, bend with maternal grace hitherto unwitnessed, in loving
contemplation of the Son, or--mothers in glory--they bow to receive
the homage of the Redeemer. His saints ecstatically gaze at luminous
celestial apparitions; his golden winged angels dance lightly beneath
the throne of their Lord or sound merrily the most various
instruments, singing: _laudate Dominum..., laudate eum in sono tubæ,
laudate eum in psalterio et cithara, laudate eum in timpano et
choro..._; or else with their fair curly heads downcast they
reverently worship the divine majesty. What a feast of light and
colour is in these panels, gleaming with azure and gold like a hymn to
religion and faith!

"We know from him how the pious imagination of the men of his time
pictured the Kingdom of Heaven, with the angels, saints, and blessed
ones, and on this account alone his pictures would have been of
extraordinary importance in the history of religion. Not to love Fra
Angelico would mean to lack the true sentiment of ancient art, for
though we recognize the pious _naïveté_ of the monk, there is in the
heavenly beauty of his figures, and the joy of youthful faith which
animates the artist, a charm unequalled in the whole history of
Art!"[2]

Whether Fra Angelico ever actually had a master, it is impossible to
ascertain. There are critics who affirm that if anyone initiated him
in art, imbuing him with his own sentiment and style, it might have
been the Camaldolese monk Lorenzo Monaco; but Cavalcaselle justly
observes that between Angelico and Lorenzo Monaco there only exists
that affinity which in coetaneous artists results from community of
thought, social conditions, and religious sentiments. Two monks like
the Camaldolese and the Dominican might well show the same ideas,
without implying a relation of master and scholar between them.[3]

Both critics and historians, however, agree in the assertion that he
began his career in art by illuminating codices and choral books.
Baldinucci and Rosini judge that his master in painting was the
Florentine Gherardo Starnina, whom Lanzi designates as "a painter of
life-like style." But Padre Marchese refuting this opinion observes
that "not to mention Vasari's silence on the matter, the fact is very
doubtful, because Gherardo passed many years in Spain, and returning
to his native land died in 1403, when little Guido of Mugello[4] was
only 16 years old, an age which scarcely admits of the first steps in
Art."[5] But the date of Starnina's death is now corrected and proved
to have been in 1408, so, taking into account the character of our
artist's works, nothing need now be opposed to the theory that Fra
Giovanni may have profited by the teaching of that master, while
living in Florence after his return from Spain; besides it is not
proved whether that journey to Spain was ever really taken.
Historians, it is true, tell us that Starnina, being obliged to leave
Florence after the Ciompi riots (1378), took refuge in Spain, where he
lived several years; but it is certain that in 1387 his name was
inscribed in the Guild of Florentine painters.[6]

Vasari does not doubt that Fra Angelico, like other artists from
Masaccio onwards, acquired his skill by studying the frescoes of the
Brancacci Chapel;[7] but besides the fact that the style of those
pictures is diametrically opposed to Fra Angelico's, the latter could
not possibly have been in Masaccio's school, for as he was born in
1387, he was fifteen years older than Masaccio and already a proved
master, when the Carmine frescoes were being painted. Fra Angelico's
style is so individual and characteristic, that it might rather be
considered as springing from his own disposition, developed under the
influence of his time. Studying the works left in Florence by his
great predecessors, leading a retired life, and purifying every idea,
every inspiration in the fire of religion, Angelico was enabled, by
meditation, to perfect the models of the best artists of the
"trecento", among whom we should opine that the influence of Orcagna
in his frescoes in the Strozzi Chapel of S. M. Novella, was greater
even than that of Giotto. Indeed it is evident that what Orcagna
began, is carried to the highest development in Fra Angelico, who
combined softness and refinement with severity of form, grace of
expression with nobility of attitude.

The figure of the Virgin in the fresco of the Judgment in the Strozzi
Chapel, so grand and majestic in its simplicity, is again recognisable
in the panels of Fra Angelico, imitated with his own especial
character and spiritual feeling, full of grace and humility, the soft
lines breathing beauty and lightness. The saints who appear to be
actually in celestial repose, have also inspired Fra Giovanni; the
same gentle and contemplative expression which irradiates the features
of the elect is again visible in our painter's figures. In the
colouring of both, vivacity is combined with softness, and vigour of
chiaro-scuro goes together with transparency of tint.

Nevertheless it is true that in certain respects, Fra Angelico might
be said to belong to the same school as Masolino. They are, however,
at the antipodes from each other in sentiment and artistic
interpretation, for while the saintly Giovanni endeavoured to idealize
the human figure and render it divine, Masolino, like most of his
contemporaries, followed a style distinctly realistic; yet it may be
proved that in technique, both followed the same rules, and worked on
similar principles. In fact the similitude between the two painters
noticeable in their composition, softness of outline, lightness of
figures, and clear harmonious colouring, tends to confirm the great
artistic affinity which we have indicated. Both of them used rosy
tints in the flesh, with greenish and yellowish shadows, both recall
the older artists of the "trecento" in the perspective, which is often
incorrect, and out of proportion. But how far superior is Fra Angelico
when the work of both in its full aspect is compared!

Fra Angelico has, it is true, conventional forms, and there is a
certain sameness in his heads with their large oval countenances; the
small eyes, outlined round the upper arch of the eyebrow, and with a
black spot for pupils, sometimes lack expression, or have a too
monotonous one, and the iris is often lost in the white of the cornea;
his mouths are always drawn small with a thickening of the lips in
the centre, and the corners strongly accentuated; the colour of his
faces is either too pink or too yellow; the folds of the robes (often
independent of the figure, especially in the lower part) fall
straight, and in the representations of the seated Virgin expand on
the ground, as if to form the foot of a chalice. But in his frescoes
these faults of conventional manner almost entirely disappear, giving
place to freer drawing, more life-like expression, and a character of
greater power.

We will not repeat with Vasari that Fra Giovanni perfected his art
from the frescoes of the Brancacci Chapel; but we do not doubt that he
too felt the beneficent influx of the new style, of which Masaccio was
the greatest champion, and that he followed it, leaving behind, up to
a certain point, the primitive giottesque forms. There is in his art,
the great mediæval ideal rejuvenated and reinvigorated by the spirit
of newer times. Being in the beginning of his career, as is generally
believed, only an illuminator, he continued, with subtle delicacy and
accurate, almost timid design, to illuminate in larger proportions on
his panels, those figures which are often only parts of a decorative
whole. But in his later works while still preserving the simplicity
of handling, and the innate character of his style, he displays
a new tendency, and learns to give life to his figures, not only
by the expression of purity and sweet ecstasy, but in finer
particularization of form and action which he reproduces in more
material style.

His clear diaphanous transparency of colouring is not used from lack
of technical ability, but to approach more nearly to his ideal of
celestial and divine visions, and succeed in a species of pictorial
religious symbolism.

In the midst of his calm and serene compositions Fra Angelico has
figures in which a healthy realism is strongly accentuated; figures
drawn with decision, strong chiaro-scuro and robust colouring, which
show that he did not deliberately disdain the progress made in art by
his contemporaries. Indeed we should err in believing that Fra
Angelico was unwilling to recognize the artistic developments going on
around him, and the new tendencies followed by his eminent neighbours
Ghiberti, Brunelleschi and Donatello. It was not so; but he only
profited by the movement as far as he deemed possible without losing
his own sentiment and character; thus giving a rare example of
self-knowledge.

Perhaps he divined that if he had followed the new current too
closely, it would have carried him farther than he wished to go; that
the new manner would have removed him for ever from his ideal; in a
word, that too intense study of the real, would have diminished or
entirely impeded fantasy and feeling. He instinctively saw these
perils, and therefore kept himself constant to his old style, and
while perfecting himself in it, he still remained what he always had
been, and what he felt he should be.

Though constrained to repeat to excess the usual subjects, too
traditionally drawn, "he often," as Burckhardt writes, "understood how
to avoid in the features of his saintly personages that aspect of
abstract impersonality, which had hitherto marked them, and to animate
them with delicate and individual life. He succeeded in giving a new
character to the time-honoured types used in preceding artistic
representations. To prove this it is sufficient to cite the St. John
Baptist--one of Fra Angelico's finest creations."

He modifies the traditional type of Christ according to his own faith
and feeling. Deriving it from Giotto, with improvements gathered from
Orcagna, he excels both masters, impressing on it a divine character,
and giving to the face of the Man God a sweet gentleness which is
truly sublime. These qualities reach the highest grade in the
"Coronation of the Virgin" at the Convent of San Marco, and in the
picture at Pisa[8] where the Saviour is represented standing upright,
in the act of blessing with his right hand, while in the uplifted left
he holds a golden cup.

He is represented full face, in all his majesty, his features of an
exquisite sweetness and nobility,--a grand figure, which has all the
seduction of a vision, such as our Dominican alone could conceive and
design.

As he could, in a manner no one had ever done before, give to the
figure of the living Christ the expression of infinite goodness, ready
for sacrifice; so in his Crucifixions, instead of following the
example of his contemporaries, who depicted Christ already dead, with
marks of sorrow on His features, and contorted by the spasm of a
violent death; he represented Him living, calm and serene, conscious
of the sacrifice He completed, and full of joy in dying for man's
salvation.

The type of the Virgin, too, though its characteristic construction of
features, and short and receding chin, are derived from the Sienese
masters, especially from Lorenzetti, in Fra Angelico responds to an
artistic idealization chosen by him as approaching more the divinity
of her person. The flowing robes of the Virgin show her long and
refined hands, but beneath that mantle he draws no feminine figure nor
can one even guess at it. All the power of the artist is concentrated
in her face

  umile in tanta gloria,
 (humble in such great glory)

on which the artist has impressed such candour, and so lively an
expression of ineffable grace, that one is involuntarily moved to
devotion.

The divine child with its golden curls, full and sunny face, wide open
and sparkling eyes, is in the pictures at Cortona and Perugia depicted
with rosy fingers in the act of blessing; in the "Madonna della
Stella" He embraces His mother so closely that He almost hides Himself
in her bosom; in the great azure-surrounded tabernacle of the Linen
Guild, He is smiling; while in the fresco of the corridor at San
Marco, He has an ingenuous wondering gaze as He holds forth His little
hand,--an expression so natural that it shows a happy grafting of
ideal representation, on a conscientious and close study of the real.

Full of character, too, are the heads of his old people, with flowing
beards and severe aspect, and those of his saints and martyrs, which
were evidently either young novices of the convent, contemporary
brethren, or elder companions in the faith, portrayed with sapient
and ingenuous realism. But the figures which most brilliantly display
his genius, are those diaphanous angels, robed in flowing tunics,
resplendent with gold, and of infinite variety. While admiring that
multitude of celestial creatures, who praise, sing and dance around
the radiant Madonnas, how can we doubt that they have visited his
cell, and that he has lived with them in a fraternal and sweet
familiarity?[9]

Even when he has to represent scenes of passion, Fra Angelico
mitigates the violence of action with softness of sentiment, for anger
and disdain never entered his soul; and in their place he prefers to
reproduce one character alone in all his figures with their gentle
expression. It is his own character, with its angelic goodness of
heart, which he incarnates in the divine beauty of all these celestial
beings. As in name and art, so in real life he was truly "angelic,"
for he spent his whole time in the service of God, and the good of his
neighbour and the world.

"And what more can or ought to be desired, than by thus living
righteously," says Vasari, "to secure the kingdom of heaven, and by
labouring virtuously, to obtain everlasting fame in this world? And,
of a truth, so extraordinary and sublime a gift as that possessed by
Fra Giovanni, should scarcely be conferred on any but a man of most
holy life, since it is certain that all who take upon them to meddle
with sacred and ecclesiastical subjects, should be men of holy and
spiritual minds....

"Fra Giovanni was a man of the utmost simplicity of intention, and was
most holy in every act of his life.... He disregarded all earthly
advantages; and, living in pure holiness, was as much the friend of
the poor in life as I believe his soul now is in heaven. He laboured
continually at his paintings, but would do nothing that was
unconnected with things holy. He might have been rich, but for riches
he took no care; on the contrary, he was accustomed to say, that the
only true riches was contentment with little. He might have commanded
many, but would not do so, declaring that there was less fatigue and
less danger of error in obeying others, than in commanding others. It
was at his option to hold places of dignity in the brotherhood of his
Order, and also in the world; but he regarded them not, affirming that
he sought no dignity and took no care but that of escaping hell and
drawing near to Paradise. And, of a truth, what dignity can be
compared to that which should be most coveted by all churchmen, nay,
by every man living, that, namely, which is found in God alone, and in
a life of virtuous labour?

"Fra Giovanni was kindly to all, and moderate in all his habits,
living temperately, and holding himself entirely apart from the snares
of the world. He used frequently to say, that he who practised the art
of painting had need of quiet, and should live without cares or
anxious thoughts; adding, that he who would do the work of Christ
should perpetually remain with Christ. He was never seen to display
anger among the brethren of his order; a thing which appears to me
most extraordinary, nay, almost incredible; if he admonished his
friends, it was with gentleness and a quiet smile; and to those who
sought his works, he would reply with the utmost cordiality, that
they had but to obtain the assent of the prior, when he would
assuredly not fail to do what they desired. In fine, this
never-sufficiently-to-be-lauded father was most humble, modest, and
excellent in all his words and works; in his painting he gave evidence
of piety and devotion, as well as of ability, and the saints that he
painted have more the air and expression of sanctity than have those
of any other master."[10]

Fra Giovanni Angelico, whose worldly name was Guido or Guidolino
(little Guy), was born in the year 1387; his father was named Piero
(surname not known) of Vicchio in the Mugello;--that pleasant valley
which boasts of having given birth to Giotto.

Vasari asserts that Guido's brother Benedetto, a miniaturist, was also
very clever in a larger style of painting, but the researches of
Milanesi quite refute this opinion, and show that Benedetto did
nothing more than copy choral books, and that he continued this kind
of work till his death.[11]

"The most ancient chronicles of the convent of St. Mark and St.
Dominic at Fiesole," writes Milanesi when registering the death of Fra
Benedetto brother of Angelico, in the year 1448, "remark simply that
he was a very good writer, and that he wrote and annotated the choral
books of St. Mark and some of those of St. Dominic." We have only the
evidence in Vasari and the "Annali del Convento di San Marco," written
after his Lives of the Painters to prove that he was a miniaturist.[12]

In these Annals it is added, with more historical truth, that although
Angelico "might have conveniently lived in the world, and besides his
own possessions might have gained any income he chose, with the art
for which he was famous even in his youth, yet, for his own
satisfaction and peace, being by nature steady and good, and chiefly
also for the salvation of his soul he preferred to take the vows in
the order of the Preaching monks."[13] This happened in 1407.

On the slopes of the smiling hill of Fiesole the foundations of a new
convent were being laid by Giovanni Dominici, the great preacher and
reformer, who wished in this new monastery to give a model to all the
cloistered orders which at the close of the preceding century had
greatly fallen from their ancient observances. St. Antonino was among
the first to embrace this reform, and after two years Guidolino and
his brother followed his example, choosing the robes of St. Dominic.

On being received by the Dominicans they were sent to Cortona, where
St. Antonino and others already resided, there being as yet no
novitiate at the Fiesole convent. In 1408 they took the irrevocable
vows, but it cannot be ascertained whether they still remained at
Cortona, or returned at once to their own convent at Fiesole. If the
latter, the two brothers must have been involved in the vicissitudes
of the Fiesolan convent, which, refusing to acknowledge Pope Alexander
V. (who was elected by the Council of Pisa 1409), entered into a
fierce contest with the archbishop of Florence. The convent was
abandoned by its inmates who fled to Foligno to avoid the rule of Fra
Tommaso da Fermo, General of the Order, who had sworn obedience to the
new Pope. They were received as guests at Foligno by Ugolino de'
Trinci, lord of the city, and Federigo Frezzi, author of the
_Quadriregio_. Here they passed five years, being treated with great
benevolence by their brethren, nor did they leave until driven away by
the plague in 1414, when they again took shelter at Cortona where they
remained till 1418.

When Guidolino entered the convent and took the name of Giovanni, he
must have been already expert in art; for the vicissitudes which
followed could certainly not have facilitated the study of painting.
In fact his works which remain at Cortona are in so youthful a style,
and bear the imprint of such freshness as to remove all doubt on this
generally accepted assertion.

While staying at Foligno, the Fiesolan refugees propagated that severe
form of life and strict observance which Giovanni Dominici had taught
in his convent at Fiesole, and brother Giovanni again began his
artistic work, for painting was to him like prayer, i. e. his usual
way of raising his mind and heart to God. Unfortunately few of these
first works have been preserved, but from those few we are assured
that he studied in Florence, from which school alone he could have
appropriated the noble manner impressed on all his works; and that
those who perceive an Umbrian influence in his art, are very far from
the truth.

There may be some elements common to both the Umbrian art and that of
Angelico; this, however, does not depend so much on the teaching of
the school, as on technical affinity; insomuch as Umbrian painting in
its lucidity, charm and accuracy of colour, is in some measure derived
from the art of illumination, and most probably Fra Angelico took his
style from the same source, as even in his most perfect works, he
always preserved a remembrance of it.

In fact, his patient diligence and study of detail render his pictures
so many miniatures, done in larger proportions; the lucidity of tint,
the grace of the ornamental motives, the almost exaggerated minuteness
of execution, are decided proofs of the artistic education of Fra
Angelico. It is pleasant to imagine him, during his sojourn at Foligno
and Cortona, making pilgrimages to Assisi, to draw inspiration from
the works of the great masters in the splendid church of San
Francesco. There he found his old friends, and might at a glance
admire together Giotto, Simone Martini, and Lorenzetto. We should say
he admired Simone and Lorenzetto more than Giotto, for the grace of
their figures, refinement of execution, and greater richness of the
accessories, robes and ornamentation, together with the pleasing
brilliance of colouring, all approached more nearly to Fra Giovanni's
own artistic sentiment than the style of Giotto.

And even less than the Umbrian painters or miniaturists (if indeed
there were any worthy to influence the artistic spirit of our artist)
did the landscape of verdant Umbria stir his soul, which even the
sweet slopes of Fiesole could not touch.

Doubtless from the heights of the convent at Cortona, which dominates
one of the finest views in Italy, the young monk admired the beautiful
horizon, and enjoyed the splendour of the verdant plain, and the blue
mountains, "enwrapt in mists of purple and gold", as he had often at
sunrise and sunset, enjoyed from his Fiesole convent the gentle fields
and dales "peopled with houses and olives"; but, after all, these
beauties of nature so often displayed before him, were dumb to an
artist who was wholly absorbed in visions beyond this world.

The study of the verdant country never occupied his mind; in his
paintings, landscape is either an insignificant accessory, or if it
occupies a large space in the picture as in the "Deposition from the
Cross" in the Florentine Gallery, it shows plainly that it is not the
result of special study, of personal impressions, or of love of the
place itself. In fact it does not attract or interest the observer at
all.

Nor could this be otherwise; the inner life of the spirit, which he
lived so intensely, and so vividly transfused in the figures of his
Saints, must necessarily have abstracted his mind from his
surroundings, to which he therefore gave little attention. In this he
was faithful to the Giottesque principle of not enriching the
background, except by just what was necessary to render the subject
intelligible, and this without pretension, or new research.

His trees rose straight on their trunks, the leaves and branches
spreading in conventional style; his rocks have the usual gradations
which we find in the old school; the views of distant cities are
absolutely fantastic and infantile creations; only the green plain is
often illumined, in an unusual manner, by tiny flowerets of many hues,
while mystic roses crown the angels' locks, adorn overflowing baskets,
or rise on long stalks at the foot of the Virgin's throne in
transparent vases.

Such are the characteristics, the spirit and the sentiment that appear
in the works of Fra Angelico, who might be considered as the last
representative of that school of which Giotto was master; and at the
same time the initiator of "Quattrocento" art, whose powerful
development irresistibly attracted him. He painted so many pictures
for the houses of Florentine citizens, that "I was often astonished,"
writes Vasari, "how one man alone could, even in many years, do so
much and so well." "And we also," justly observes Milanesi, "are not
less amazed than Vasari, for although many works have been dispersed
or are still hidden, yet a great number still remain both in Italy and
other countries, and, what is more remarkable, the greater part are
not mentioned by Vasari."[14]

We will follow our artist in his different places of abode, thus
establishing the various periods of his life and artistic productions;
from the Fiesole hills, where the first seedlings of his fantasy were
sown, to green Umbria, where his early works are, works warm with
enthusiasm, faith and youthful candour: from Florence, which he
enriched with admirable frescoes, and innumerable pictures dazzling
with gold and azure, to Rome, where he left his grand pictorial legacy
in the oratory of Pope Nicholas V.

[Illustration: Angels of the "Last Judgement."]



I.

FRA ANGELICO
AT CORTONA AND PERUGIA.

[1409-1418.]

[Illustration: ANGEL OF THE ANNUNCIATION. (Pinacoteca, Perugia.)]


If, after a study of the pictorial works of Fra Angelico, any one
should undertake to make a precise classification of them, he
would--although his frescoes are easy enough to classify--find himself
confronted by no small difficulty in regard to the panel paintings.

So active and original was the artist, and so grand in
his simplicity, that he always remained just what he appeared
from the beginning,--the painter of ingenuous piety, mystical
ecstasy, and intense religious fervour.

[Illustration: HISTORY OF ST. DOMINIC'S LIFE.]

No record is extant of his first visit to Foligno, but in the church of
St. Dominic at Cortona we may still admire a triptych with the Virgin
and four Saints; an Annunciation; and two "predelle"; one of which is
said to have belonged to the picture of St. Dominic, as the scenes
relate to the life of that Saint, and the other with some stories of the
Virgin, to the Annunciation mentioned above.

[Illustration: THE RESURRECTION OF CARDINAL DE' CECCANI'S NEPHEW.]

To the story of St. Dominic (which had already been treated in a
masterly manner by Fra Guglielmo, in the "arca" at Bologna, and by
Traini in his picture at Pisa), Fra Angelico has, in some scenes,
given a fuller development, but with less dramatic sentiment; exactly
the good and bad points which are more clearly shown in his other
works. The "predella", divided into seven parts, represents the birth
of Saint Dominic; the dream of Pope Honorius III., to whom the Saint
appears in act of steadying the falling church; the meeting of the
Saint with St. Francis; the confirmation of his rule by means of the
Virgin; the visits of St. Peter and St. Paul; the dispute with
heretics; the resurrection of the nephew of Cardinal de' Ceccani; the
supper of the Saint and his brethren; and lastly his death.

[Illustration: DEATH OF ST. DOMINIC.]

The scene of the resurrection of the young Napoleon, nephew of
Cardinal Stefano de' Ceccani, had been already powerfully depicted by
Traini; in Angelico's hands it comes out restrained and cold, the acts
of amazement in the devotees present at the miracle, who raise their
hands in astonishment, are too conventional: and it is precisely in
the intermingling of these gestures of sorrow for the death, and
wonder for the revivication, that the Pisan artist has brought out his
best effects. As we have before pointed out, the calm spirit of Fra
Angelico avoided realistic representation; his figures always suggest
love, faith and resignation, but are never agitated; like the soul of
their author, they are incapable of violent action; therefore when
these should be drawn, the representation falls below reality. We
shall see instances of this in other works of his.

[Illustration: THE ANNUNCIATION. (Church of Gesù, Cortona.)]

One of Angelico's most familiar subjects was the Annunciation, and the
most interesting of the Cortona pictures, is that of the angel's visit
to Mary. Its motive is simple and clear, as it was transmitted from
early Christian art; the general lines are unchanged, but the
expression greatly so. Fra Angelico did not disturb the religious
solemnity of the apparition with useless accessories; faithful to his
own sentiment, he has clothed Mary with humility. She sits beneath the
portico, the book neglected on her lap, her hands crossed, and her
drooping head inclined towards the heavenly messenger. The
golden-winged angel with roseate robe also bends before the Virgin,
the right hand pointing to her breast and the left to the dove which
sheds celestial rays on Mary's head. In the background Adam and Eve
are being expelled from the terrestrial Paradise, symbol of the
ancient Christian legend which directly connects the story of original
sin with that of the Redemption.

This mystic subject, which does not lack grace and freshness in the
Cortona painting, finds its fuller development in San Marco at
Florence. Here the Madonna is seated on a wooden stool, her head
projected forward almost in ecstasy, with hands clasped on her breast,
and in similar attitude the angel half kneels before her. The scene
takes place before a little grated window in the colonnade of a
cloister, utterly bare of ornament, but in this very simplicity lies
all the charm and poetry of Angelico.

Before a subject so ideal, so solemn, which reveals in such intensity
of faith and feeling how his thought spontaneously turned to the
prayer of the Salutation which was certainly on the artist's lips as
he painted, or was inspired by some sweet Annunciation hymn such as
this, which probably has been often repeated before this entrancing
picture:

    Alzando gli occhi vidi Maria bella
  Col libro in mano, e l' angel gli favella.

    Dinnanzi a lei si stava inginocchiato
  Quell' angel Gabriel tanto lucente,
  Ed umilmente a lei ebbe parlato:
  "Vergine pura, non temer niente;
  Messaggio son di Dio onnipotente,
  Che t' ha eletta e vuolti per sua sposa."

    E poi le disse: "In cielo è ordinato,
  Che siate madre del figliuol di Dio,
  Però che gli angeli il padre han pregato,
  Che con effetto adempia el lor disio;
  E da parte del sommo e buono Dio,
  Questa benedizione a voi s' appella."

    Queste parole fur tanto infiammate
  E circundate di virtù d' amore,
  Che ben parean da Dio fussin mandate,
  E molto se n' allegra nel suo core:
  "Da poi che piace all' alto Dio Signore,
  Io son contenta d' essere sua ancella."

    Ella si stava dentro alla sua cella,
  E grande meraviglia si faceva,
  Però che a nessun uomo ella favella,
  E molto timorosa rispondeva.
  L' angelo disse allora: "Ave Maria,
  Di grazia tu se' piena, o chiara stella."

    Allor discese lo Spirito santo,
  Come un razzo di sol l' ha circundata,
  Poi dentro a lei entrò quel frutto santo
  In quella sacrestia chiusa e serrata;
  Di poi partori inviolata
  E si rimase vergine e donzella.

    O veri amanti, venite a costei,
  Quella che di bellezza è madonna:
  L' aria e la terra si sostien per lei,
  Del ciel regina e del mondo colonna,
  Chi vuol veder la donzella gioconda
  Vada a veder la nunziata bella.[15]

The other predella at Cortona represents various episodes in the life
of the Virgin:--the Nativity, Marriage, Visitation, Adoration of the
Magi, Presentation in the Temple, Death, Burial and lastly the
apparition of the Virgin to the blessed Dominican Reginald of Orleans.
Padre Marchese believes that this last scene did not originally belong
to the predella; but the doubt is unfounded, for nothing is more
natural than the artist's wish to connect the history of the Virgin
with his Order, of which she is the patroness.

[Illustration: THE MARRIAGE OF THE VIRGIN. (Cortona.)]

[Illustration: THE MARRIAGE OF THE VIRGIN. (Uffizi Gallery.)]

Cavalcaselle, as well as Marchese, affirms that the scene of the
Marriage of the Virgin reproduces that of the picture in the Uffizi at
Florence. This may be, as far as the subject and scene go, but in the
disposition of the figures, the development of action, the two works
have nothing in common. Of course in both there must be the priest who
unites the bridal couple, and around them the usual personages in
various attitudes of complaisance, surprise, and rejoicing, but the
grouping of the figures in the predella at Cortona is more naturally
conceived. The women on the right appear to come from the house where
they had met to assist at the ceremony; the men stand on the left. The
background with its portico, and the walls, above which the trees of a
garden project, are shown with more truth and solidity. To give wider
scope to the scene Fra Angelico has depicted the marriage in an open
space. The picture in the Uffizi, on the other hand, is so
conventional both in architecture and landscape that it is impossible
to establish a comparison between the two.

[Illustration: THE VISITATION.]

The Visitation depicts the wife of Zacharias meeting the Virgin, and
lovingly embracing her; a serving maid leaning against the threshold,
half hidden by the door, is listening with devotion, while another
woman kneels on the ground in the road raising her hands to heaven.

In the Adoration of the Magi we find the usual qualities of
composition and feeling. One of the Kings has already rendered homage
to the Redeemer, and is talking to St. Joseph, who thanks him with
earnest devotion; and while the second falls prone before the divine
Child, and kisses His feet with profound emotion, the third prepares
himself to render the required homage. All around are elegant little
figures of pages and servants, in life-like and natural attitudes.

[Illustration: ADORATION OF THE MAGI.]

The last story represents the Assumption of the Virgin,
at which, according to ancient tradition, Christ is present
and carries in his arms the soul of His mother in the form
of a little child.

[Illustration: ADORATION OF THE MAGI. (Uffizi Gallery.)]

Padre Marchese wrote that both the Adoration and this Assumption are
in every respect similar, or replicas of those in the Uffizi. If
anything, the pretty little panels of the Uffizi might be replicas of
the Cortona ones; but in Florence the only painting with the scene of
the Adoration of the Magi is that in the predella of the tabernacle of
the Linen Weavers' Guild. Now, while the Adoration in the Cortona
predella is naturally and simply pourtrayed, that of Florence is
conventional and stiff, the vacuity of some figures and their actions
is very evident--therefore this similitude also reduces itself to mere
identity of subject. The Assumption of the Virgin also offers very
notable differences. The predella at Cortona is more intense and
severe, more simple and hence more grand; while the little panel in
the Uffizi shows that the effort to embellish the scene has been too
much for the artist, and the intensity of sentiment is greatly
lessened, being injured by useless accessories. In that of Cortona, on
the contrary, the figures of the Apostles who hold the sheet on which
the Virgin reposes are full of expression and natural in action, the
steep and mountainous background has severe and grand lines, as if to
emphasize the sadness of the scene. Here the artist felt and created,
there he merely repeated himself.

[Illustration: THE DEATH OF THE VIRGIN. (Cortona.)]

[Illustration: THE DEATH OF THE VIRGIN. (Uffizi Gallery.)]

The triptych, once on the great altar of the church of San Domenico,
now at a side altar on the right, has the Virgin seated in the centre
with the Holy Child upright on her knee, his right hand is raised in
act of benediction, and with his left he holds a rose. Around the
throne are four angels, one of which carries a basket of flowers. In
the side panels are St. Matthew, St. John Baptist, St. John the
Evangelist and Mary Magdalene. Above in the central compartment of the
triptych, is the Crucifixion and the two rounds on the sides represent
the Annunciation.

In the Chapel of Sant' Orsola in San Domenico at Perugia there was
formerly a panel picture now divided into many parts and much damaged.
This was painted by Fra Giovanni for the Chapel of San Niccolò de'
Guidalotti, and may now be seen in the Vannucci gallery at Perugia.

[Illustration: VIRGIN AND CHILD WITH SAINTS.
(Church of St. Domenico, Cortona.)]

The Virgin is enthroned with her Son on her knees, His right hand in
act of benediction, His left holding a half open pomegranate. At the
foot of the throne four angels are standing back, the two first lift
up a basket full of white and red roses, the others peep from behind
the throne of the Virgin who turns lovingly to her little Son, who is
entirely nude, and as rosy as the angels' flowers, and those in three
vases at the foot of the throne. On the right of the Virgin are St.
John Baptist and St. Catherine; on the left St. Dominic and St.
Nicholas. On the predella, which is divided into three parts, were
once various scenes from the life of St. Nicholas of Bari, two of
these are now to be found in the Vatican Gallery. In a complex
composition, they represent the birth of the Saint; his listening to
the preaching of a bishop to a congregation of women seated in a
flowery field; the Saint saving from dishonour the daughters of a poor
gentleman; and the miracle of causing a hundred measures of wheat to
rain down and relieve the famine in the city of Nuri. On the upper
portion the Saint appears from behind a rock, having been invoked by
some devotees to calm a tempest which threatened to wreck their bark.

[Illustration: MADONNA AND CHILD. (Pinacoteca, Perugia.)]

The portion at Perugia represents the miraculous salvation of three
innocent youths, sons of Roman princes; and the death and funeral of
the Saint. In the lower part of the picture he is extended on the bier
surrounded by monks, women and poor people who weep his loss, while
above, his soul is being led to heaven by four angels. The frame of
the painting is now divided into twelve fragments, each one containing
a small figure of a Saint: they are St. Romuald, St. Gregory, St.
Laurence, St. Bonaventure, St. Catherine, St. Peter Martyr, St. Mary
Magdalene, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Peter, St. Stephen, St. Paul and
St. John. The last four figures have been mutilated in the lower part,
and in these, as well as the others, the colouring is much injured.
If it were desired to complete the altar-piece, at present, the
gables of the tripartite frame would be missing, but there is no doubt
that--as in the Cortona picture--the two small rounds in the Perugian
Pinacoteca, representing the Angel of the Annunciation and the Virgin,
on gold backgrounds, formed part. Padre Marchese places this panel
among the youthful works of the artist, "because it shows more than
his other works the manner and technique of Giotto's school." Padre
Timoteo Bottonio wrote that it was painted in 1437, but the Dominican
author adds that this is not likely, as Fra Giovanni Angelico was at
that time in Florence, where the restoration of San Marco was begun,
and also the building of the new convent which he adorned with so many
marvellous frescoes.

[Illustration: BIRTH, PREACHING AND MIRACLES OF ST. NICHOLAS.
(Vatican, Rome.)]

[Illustration: THE DEATH OF ST. NICHOLAS. (Pinacoteca, Perugia.)]

This would actually signify little. As the picture which is said to
have been painted for the church of Sant' Andrea at Brescia was
naturally done at Fiesole, this one for Perugia might well have been
executed at Florence. But though it recalls the most characteristic
works of the artist and, for liveliness of colour and accurate study
of form, may be considered one of his most remarkable works, we have
no hesitation in ascribing it to his first artistic period. In both
these altar-pieces the grouping of the figures is still faithful to
Giottesque tradition; it was only later, i. e. when Fra Angelico had
felt the artistic influences developing around him, that he placed the
figures in one picture on different levels, to make a circle round the
Mother of Christ.

The type of the Virgin herself in this Perugian picture is similar to
that of the Cortona panel; they both have the eyes wide apart, a
short, receding chin, and small mouth; characteristics which are also
seen in the angels behind the Virgin's throne in the San Domenico
picture at Cortona. From an architectural view the throne has here a
much more antique shape than in his later designs, where Renaissance
forms predominate. As to the picture at Perugia it has been so
restored and arbitrarily put together after the panel was divided,
that it affords no serious proof of authenticity.

We must therefore conclude that the Perugian one was painted before
1433, for could we possibly admit (as Padre Bottonio wills it) that it
was done in 1437, that is only a year before the celebrated painting
for the church of San Marco? And seeing that when the Dominicans again
obtained possession of their own convent and returned to Fiesole
neither Fra Angelico nor his brother Fra Benedetto were among them, we
may reasonably suppose that Angelico was then at Perugia, painting the
altar-piece for the Guidalotti Chapel; and that he only returned to
Florence when he had finished that work, which we may date later than
the panel still to be admired at Cortona.

These are the only works known to have been painted by him while he
and his brethren had left their beloved Fiesole hills to seek peace
and tranquillity in Umbria,--the only records of that period of
voluntary exile.

[Illustration: VIRGIN OF THE ANNUNCIATION. (Pinacoteca, Perugia.)]



II.

FRA ANGELICO AT FIESOLE.

[1418-1436.]

[Illustration]


Whilst Fra Angelico was putting the legends of the Virgin and St.
Dominic into colour in Umbria, Giovanni Dominici together with
Leonardo Dati, master-general of the Order, was negotiating with the
Bishop of Fiesole and Pope Gregory XII. to again obtain possession of
the convent founded by Dominici. It was only in 1418 that the Fiesolan
bishop acceded to their request, on condition that the Dominicans
would make him a present of some sacred vestments to the value of a
hundred ducats. This sum, writes Marchese, was taken from the legacy
left to the convent by the father of St. Antonino, who died about
that time. A rich merchant having died in Florence in the same year,
leaving the monks of Fiesole six thousand florins, it was besides
decided to enlarge the building. The legal act of free and absolute
concession being signed, the father-general at once sent for four of
the monks from Cortona, among whom, as we have said, were neither Fra
Angelico nor Fra Benedetto. This does not imply that all the others
who had left in 1409, might not have returned later, and probably Fra
Angelico among them.[16]

It was in this convent from which on the side towards the ridge of the
Fiesole hill, he looked on the olives spreading their silvery branches
against the blue sky, that Fra Angelico, absorbed in work and prayer,
passed the greater part of his life. It is impossible to determine at
which of the many works that now adorn the Florentine and foreign
galleries, he worked during his stay in Fiesole, where he remained
till 1436; certainly he painted the panel pictures for his church, the
Tabernacle of the Linen Weavers, and frescoes in some parts of the
convent. That convent so dear to him must have awakened in his soul
many bitter and sweet memories--whether he thought of the days when he
and his brother Benedetto first took their vows, or of the
successive vicissitudes when he and the brethren were forced to
abandon it.

[Illustration: CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN. (San Marco, Florence.)]

Vasari asserts that "he painted an Easter candle in several small
scenes, for Giovanni Masi, a monk of the convent of Santa Maria
Novella; and also some reliquaries which on solemn feast days were
placed on the altar," and are preserved to this day in the convent of
San Marco. They represent the "Coronation of the Virgin," the "Madonna
della Stella" and the "Adoration of the Magi." The Coronation has been
too much damaged by useless retouching to be able fully to judge of
its merits. It is for this cause perhaps that some people have
ventured to doubt its authenticity: "one perceives," writes Cartier,
"his religious conception, and desire to follow his model, but the
whole composition lacks order and space, the figures are heavy,
attitudes embarrassed, proportions short, outlines coarse and the
whole painting is strained."[17]

[Illustration: MADONNA DELLA STELLA (OF THE STAR).
(San Marco, Florence.)]

Now this is not absolutely exact. Naturally if we compare this little
reliquary with the great "Coronation" at the Louvre, we find the
composition more compressed, but it is not confused. True, the types
of the Virgin and Redeemer have not that grand simplicity which with
sincere enthusiasm we admire in his later panels of the same subject.
But possibly we have here the artist's first conception, an idea which
he successively developed and perfected till he reached the highest
grade of beauty, first in the picture at the Louvre, then in the truly
celestial one of the Florentine Gallery.

In the little painting of the Madonna della Stella (of the Star) we
have qualities of grace and nobility all Fra Angelico's own. The six
adoring angels on the slope of the frame, and the two seated at the
base playing musical instruments, not only fully reveal his ability,
but might be classed with those of the Linen Weaver's Tabernacle as
among the most beautiful and ethereal he ever painted.

The third reliquary which is divided into two parts represents the
"Adoration of the Magi," below, and the "Annunciation" above. The
Virgin has a book on her lap, her arms crossed on the breast, and head
extended towards the celestial messenger who kneels before her; but
both figures, though showing Fra Angelico's characteristic sentiment,
have exaggerated proportions; the neck is inordinately long, the
colouring enamelled, and so brilliant as to give the picture the
character of a fine and elegantly illuminated missal. In the
"Adoration" the Virgin displays the same defects of proportion, but
among the figures of the three Kings and the personages accompanying
them, are some of exceptional elegance and exquisite beauty. On the
whole the scene may be classed among the finest and most graceful of
the works which Fra Angelico has left to us.

[Illustration: THE ANNUNCIATION AND THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI.
(San Marco, Florence.)]

There is a kind of reliquary in the Vatican Gallery, which represents
the Virgin seated, with the Child on her left arm. Her raised right
hand holds the rose, and at her feet kneel St. Dominic and St.
Catherine. Cavalcaselle supposes this to have been the fourth of the
reliquaries once in Santa Maria Novella, but it more probably belongs
to that small painting reproduced by Prof. Helbig,[18] in the _Revue
de l'Art Chrétien_, in which Angelico has represented the death and
assumption of the Virgin.

The under part of the picture, representing the death of the Virgin,
recalls, in the general grouping of figures, the same subject now in
the Uffizi Gallery; but in this one, four Apostles are depicted in the
act of raising the bier, while the others surround the Christ, who
holds in His arms the soul of His Mother in the form of a babe. In the
upper part we see the Virgin with upraised arms, being received by
the Saviour who extends His hands as if in welcome. The type of the
Virgin recalls that of the small panel representing the "Adoration"
and "Annunciation." The Christ is, in the foreshortening and character
of the face, a repetition of that on the reliquary of the "Madonna
della Stella." The figure of the Virgin is incorporeal and
insignificant; but the angels who in varied attitudes dance around the
throne playing divers instruments, are charming and graceful.

In the ancient refectory of the Fiesolan convent Fra Angelico painted
a life-size Christ Crucified, with St. Dominic kneeling below clinging
passionately to the Cross. At the sides stand the Virgin and St. John
the Evangelist; there is also a figure of the saintly founder, but it
was either added later, or else has been badly restored and cannot be
taken as Fra Angelico's work. The picture has been removed from the
wall, and is now in the Museum of the Louvre; it is damaged in several
parts; the delicacy of colouring is lost, the background spoiled, and
only the figures of the Saviour, the Virgin, and the head of St. John
remain in tolerable condition.

The other fresco in the old chapter-house (this also has been removed
from the wall, and is now in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg),
represents the Virgin seated, with the Child on her knee, between St.
Dominic and St. Thomas Aquinas; all these figures show signs of
incompetent restoration, the outlines and drapery having been
repainted. Less spoiled perhaps by retouching, but yet in a deplorable
condition, is the other painting, a Crucifixion, still existing in the
Sacristy of the Convent. The Redeemer with extended arms, has His head
drooping straight on the breast, and the legs are stiffened and curve
to the right. A crown of thorns encircles the head, which is
surrounded by a great aureole; but the head is small; and the face,
with its insignificant features, lacks the intense expression which
Fra Angelico usually succeeds in putting into similar subjects.

He also painted the altar-piece for the great altar in San Domenico at
Fiesole, "which," writes Vasari, "perhaps because it appeared to be
deteriorating, has been retouched and injured by other masters. But
the predella and ciborium of the Sacrament are better preserved; and
you may see infinite little figures which are lovely in their
celestial glory, and appear indeed to come from Paradise, nor can
those who draw near ever look at them sufficiently."[19]

The picture is now removed into the choir. In the centre the Virgin
with her Son, is seated on the throne; six angels stand around her in
act of adoration, and two kneel in front with vases in their hands. At
the sides St. Thomas and St. Peter are placed on the left; St. Dominic
and St. Peter Martyr on the right. The retouching of which Vasari
speaks, was done by Lorenzo di Credi in 1501, when the picture was
reduced to its present form. We learn this from a record in the MS.
chronicle of the Convent of Fiesole, which is quoted by Padre Marchese
in his "Memorie."[20] But the panel has suffered other and worse
things than this. Other figures taken from an older frame have been
substituted for those in the pilasters. Some coarse copies have been
put in the place of the three "stories" of the predella, and the
original one was sold, together with the ciborium.[21]

The predella, now in the National Gallery of London, is divided into
five compartments. In the centre is Christ robed in white, His right
hand raised in benediction, and a standard held in His left; at the
sides are a crowd of angels--some blowing trumpets, others playing
instruments, others again in attitudes of profound veneration--all
have robes of pure and brilliant hues with azure wings lightly
sprinkled with gold. The side scenes have multitudes of saints, either
standing or kneeling in adoration: on the left are patriarchs,
bishops, monks and martyrs, each with his own emblem; on the right, a
crowd of kneeling feminine saints among whom we can recognise St.
Agnes, St. Catherine and St. Helen, and behind them a line of male
saints, amongst them St. Cyprian, St. Clement, St. Thomas, St.
Erasmus, and others whose names are written on their mitres. Still
higher King David, St. John Baptist and the prophets Jeremiah,
Zaccariah and Habakkuk. The faces are painted with great delicacy and
accuracy, and although they show some variety of lineament, the
expression is rather mannered. The outlines of the feminine saints are
full of grace and those of the other sex do not lack great dignity.
Although the work is of minor proportion, it shows a noteworthy
progress when compared with the conceptions of Orcagna.

The greater part of the draperies are rendered with most refined
colouring, so delicately toned and judiciously contrasted, that no
part of the painting appears either crude, or of exaggerated richness;
while the gold used in every part of the background contributes to
give great harmony to the whole. In the pictures placed at the end of
the predella, the Dominicans are depicted in their white robes and
black mantles.

[Illustration: PREDELLA. (National Gallery, London.)]

This delightful work, which roused the admiration of Vasari, contains
not less than 266 figures and may justly be considered as one of the
gems of the collection. Executed with all the delicacy of an
illumination, it sparkles with bright but harmonious colours, while
the spirit of devotion which penetrates the whole is entirely
characteristic of the painter.[22]

Angelico reached greater perfection in the picture of the
"Annunciation" of which Vasari says: "In a chapel of the same church
is a picture from the same hand, representing Our Lady receiving the
Annunciation from the angel Gabriel, with a countenance which is seen
in profile, so devout, so delicate, and so perfectly executed, that
the beholder can scarcely believe it to be by the hand of man, but
would rather suppose it to have been delineated in Paradise. In the
landscape forming the background are seen Adam and Eve, whose fall
made it needful that the Virgin should give birth to the
Redeemer."[23]

This picture (purchased in 1611 by Duke Mario Farnese) is now in the
Museum at Madrid. The Virgin is seated on the right under a graceful
portico sustained by small columns. Her head inclines a little towards
the Angel, in the same attitude as in the Cortona altar-piece and the
fresco at San Marco. She holds the book on her knees, and crosses her
hands on her breast; while the golden winged Angel, in its rose
coloured robe, with an arm curved in similar attitude of reverence,
sheds light around, as in the painting at Cortona. High up in the left
corner the hand of the Eternal Father sends down a ray of light, in
the midst of which the Holy Spirit is symbolized. In the background,
as in the Cortona picture, Adam and Eve are being expelled from
Paradise.

In the predella are some beautiful "stories" representing the
"Marriage of the Virgin," the "Salutation," the "Adoration of the
Magi," the "Circumcision of Christ" and the "Death of the Virgin."[24]

"But superior to all the other works of Fra Giovanni, and one in which
he surpassed himself, is a picture in the same church (i. e. San
Domenico at Fiesole), near the door on the left hand of the entrance:
in this work, he proves the high quality of his powers as well as the
profound intelligence he possessed of the art which he practised. The
subject is the Coronation of the Virgin by Jesus Christ: the principal
figures are surrounded by a choir of angels, among whom are vast
numbers of saints and holy personages, male and female. These figures
are so numerous, so well executed, in attitudes so varied, and the
expressions of the heads so richly diversified, that one feels
infinite pleasure and delight in regarding them. Nay, one is convinced
that those blessed spirits can look no otherwise in heaven itself, or
to speak under correction, could not, if they had forms, appear
otherwise; for all the saints, male and female, assembled here, have
not only life and expression, most delicately and truly rendered, but
the colouring also of the whole work would seem to have been given by
the hand of a saint, or of an angel like themselves. It is not without
sufficient reason therefore, that this excellent ecclesiastic is
always called Frate Giovanni Angelico. The stories from the life of
Our Lady and of St. Dominic which adorn the predella, moreover, are in
the same divine style; and I, for myself, can affirm with truth, that
I never see this work but it appears something new, nor can I ever
satisfy myself with the sight of it, or have enough of beholding
it."[25]

[Illustration: MUSEUM OF THE LOUVRE--PARIS.
THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.]

The painting is now in the Louvre at Paris, having been taken from
Fiesole during the French invasion of 1812.

Under a rich canopy with inlaid columns and brocade hangings the
Redeemer seated on the throne, places the crown on the head of his
Mother, who kneels before him, with hands crossed on her bosom. Around
them angels are making the air resound with the voice of song, and the
music of many instruments. Saints, male and female circle round, some
standing, others kneeling, their fixed eyes and ecstatic features
denoting their joy in such divine splendour. Among the saints are the
great personages of the religious orders, together with bishops and
emperors. On the right, among the kneeling female saints are seen St.
Agnes tenderly pressing the lamb to her breast, St. Catherine holding
her wheel of torture and a palm, St. Ursula clasps the arrow which
united her in death to her divine Spouse, St. Cecilia's pretty head is
garlanded with flowers, while St. Mary Magdalene turns her back
showing the rich locks of hair flowing over her shoulder as she holds
the vase of ointment in her left hand. On the opposite side are St.
Dominic with the lily and open book, St. Augustine, St. Benedict, St.
Anthony and St. Francis. On a higher level St. Louis, with his crown
of _fiordalise_, talks with St. Thomas; while St. Nicholas supports
himself with both hands on his pastoral staff.

"It is a clever composition, wonderfully balanced, and the solemnity
of style does not at all exclude exuberance of life or infinite
variety of ideas.

"The bodies are almost diaphanous, the heads ethereal, the atmosphere
and light have a touch of the supernatural. Up to this point the
subject is subdued, but the colours lively and pure--among which blue
and carmine predominate--gleam with particular splendour."[26]

The predella contains in some small compositions the chief episodes in
the life of St. Dominic, excepting the central compartment where
Christ is drawn, issuing from the sepulchre between the Virgin and St.
John. The compositions are all executed with that love and delicacy
which are the glory of the artist, but even these little stories, like
the larger panel, have been more or less injured by repeated
restorations.

[Illustration: UFFIZI GALLERY--FLORENCE.
THE CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.]

A similar subject now in the Uffizi Gallery at Florence and which Fra
Angelico painted for the church of Santa Maria Novella, is still more
aerial and celestial, a perfect masterpiece of sentiment and mystic
expression.

Here also Fra Angelico clings to that traditional characteristic,
peculiarly his own--the art of sacred vision, but with what new life
he animates it, and what poetical witchery he throws into this
creation of his ascetic fantasy!

His predecessors reproduced with slight varieties the model of Giotto,
and the great Florentine painter himself has given us the scene in its
most simple reality. High in the central part of Giotto's "Coronation"
Christ places the crown on the Virgin, who with hands crossed, bows
her head to receive the homage of her Son. But on her face there is no
expression of ecstatic joy, modest, indeed "humble in the midst of
glory", she droops her eyes, almost as if she dared not rest them on
the Saviour. Angels and saints, symmetrically disposed at the sides,
fill the whole background of the picture, with heads either raised in
admiration or bowed in respect, but in attitudes so similar, that they
give a sense of monotony. Then come the saints, some kneeling at the
foot of the throne, and others in the side wings of the triptych,
reverently bowing to the Mother of God.

Fra Angelico repeats the principal motive, but develops it according
to his high ideal, his intense faith, and mystic sentiment. He gives
to the Virgin an expression of infinite sweetness; to the angels a
truly celestial charm, to the saints a serene expression of
beatitude, and to the whole scene the azure divine character of a
vision of Paradise.

High in the centre the Redeemer extends his right hand to add a
brilliant gem to the crown of the Virgin, who sits near him, with
hands crossed in loving reverence. A luminous golden ray from this
group engraved on the panel, forms gleaming and resplendent waves in
the background of the picture, from which groups of angels stand out,
playing all sorts of music, or dancing with hand clasped in hand. Two
are prostrated in profound admiration at the base, and shed clouds of
incense from their thuribles, while two others draw melody from
heavenly harps.

In the lower part of the picture are many saints, who by their charmed
faces and feeling of ineffable joy, show how delighted they are with
the vision and the heavenly music.

[Illustration: ANCIENT AND MODERN GALLERY--FLORENCE.
THE LAST JUDGEMENT.]

"The greatest eloquence," writes Marchese, "would fail to express the
impression which this painting produces. The heart has a language
which does not always speak in words, and we can never contemplate
this picture without feeling in love with heaven."[27]

Among the works which were undoubtedly done by Fra Angelico during his
stay at Fiesole, may be ascribed several different representations of
the Last Judgment. He derived the inspiration of the subject directly
from Orcagna's fresco in Santa Maria Novella, only Fra Angelico has
created a paradise too exclusively modelled on the monastic life. "His
ideal," writes Reymond, "is a young neophyte entirely absorbed in
prayer--a contemplative being who has renounced earthly life,
abdicating his qualities as a man to dream of nothing but the future
life. Orcagna, on the contrary, dreams of an ideal in which human life
triumphs in all its fulness, and one might say that the beings which
people his Paradise are but glorified bodies."[28]

Fra Giovanni painted Hell and Paradise with small figures for the
Camaldolese monks of Santa Maria degli Angeli. This is the picture
now in the Ancient and Modern Gallery at Florence, of which Vasari
writes, "he proved the rectitude of his judgment in this work, having
made the countenances of the blessed beautiful and full of a celestial
gladness; but the condemned, those destined to the pains of hell, he
has depicted in various attitudes of sorrow, and bearing the impress
and consciousness of their misdeeds and wretchedness on their faces:
the blessed are seen to enter the gate of paradise in triumphal dance,
the condemned are dragged away to eternal punishment in hell by the
hands of demons."[29]

The representation is faithful to artistic tradition. In the highest
part the Saviour calls the elect to Him with His right hand, while
with His left He motions away the reprobate: around Him are eight
winged cherubim, with whom kneeling angels below join to form a
circle. Some are adoring or praying, others hold scrolls in their
hands. On the right sits the Virgin in white robes, with hands crossed
on her breast and head gently bent: on the left St. John Baptist with
hands clasped in prayer. At the sides Patriarchs, Apostles and
Prophets, and at the extremities St. Dominic and St. Francis. An angel
holds the cross at the feet of Christ, and two others flying, blow
their trumpets towards the dead, who rise from the open sepulchres
below.

In the base at the left, demons drag the damned ones to Hell; on the
right the elect cast glances of love and faith on the Saviour, and in
joyous fraternity enjoy the heavenly guerdon. The Elysian Fields of
the blessed are truly celestial, gleaming with gold, irrigated by
limpid streams, glorious with beautiful flowerets that bloom amid the
verdure, the exuberance of nature harmonizing marvelously with the joy
of the elect.

    And in that midst their sportive pennons waved
  Thousands of angels, in resplendence each
  Distinct and quaint adornment. At their glee
  And carol smiled the Lovely One of heaven
  That joy was in the eyes of all the blest.[30]

Not unworthy of the divine poet is Angelico's heavenly composition in
which as in the Dantesque Paradise is shed

    Light intellectual replete with love,
  Love of true happiness, replete with joy,
  Joy, that transcends all sweetness of delight.[31]

Together with these verses of Dante, Fra Angelico, while endeavouring
to depict the dance of the blessed, may well have called to mind these
verses of a sacred laud, which is said to be by Iacopone da Todi and
(whether his or not) describes in popular language the celestial
_caròla_[32] of the saints:

    Una rota si fa in cielo
  De tutti i Santi in quel zardino,
  Là ove sta l'amor divino
  Che s'infiamma de l'amore.

    In quella rota vano i Santi
  Et li Angioli tutti quanti;
  A quello Sposo van davanti:
  Tutti danzan per amore.

    In quella corte è un' alegreza
  D' un amor dismisuranza:
  Tutti vanno ad una danza
  Per amor del Salvatore.

    Son vestiti di vergato,
  Bianco, rosso e frammezzato;
  Le ghirlande in mezo el capo:
  Ben mi pareno amatori.

    Tutti quanti con ghirlandi,
  Paren giovin' de trent' anni:
  Quella corte se rinfranchi,
  Ogni cosa è piena d'amore.

    Le ghirlande son fiorite,
  Più che l'oro son chiarite:
  Ornate son di margarite,
  Divisate di colore, ecc.[33]

Above from the heavenly Jerusalem stream rays of golden light, and two
angels who are passing into the portal, are aerial and luminous, as
bright and splendid spirits.

[Illustration: The dance of the blessed.
(Details from the Last Judgment)]

Less original is the representation of Hell, which is copied straight
from the fresco in the Pisan Camposanto. Not only the same division of
_bolge_ (hell-pits), but even the repetition of motives in the souls
that fill them; the only and notable difference is the figure of
Lucifer which instead of being in the centre occupies the base of the
picture. At the summit "Eriton cruda, che richiamava l'ombre a' corpi
sui," is precisely in the same attitude as in the Pisan Camposanto, a
figure holding a banner coiled around by a serpent, and near it is a
simoniac with his entrails torn out, the identical figure from the
Pisan Hell. The back view of the figure which a demon raises to throw
into the jaws of a terrible monster is also copied entire from the
same fresco.

The _bolge_ and the damned souls which occupy them, are, as we have
said, repetitions, but with less intelligence and character than the
Pisan fresco.

On the left the slothful and lazy are punished; beneath them in two
_bolge_ are the passionate and the gluttonous souls, and below again
the luxurious and avaricious ones. The poverty of conception in this
"Inferno" is not even compensated by the usual good qualities of
refinement; one could almost believe that the artist found it so
repugnant to his character to depict brutality and infernal tortures,
that he hurried over this part to get rid of it the sooner. The
representation of the damned is cold, their struggles with the demons,
which at Pisa and in other places is so full of energy, is given here
with exaggerated art and becomes ineffectual; in fact this part of the
picture is void of feeling, and confirms our previous remarks on the
artistic character of the painter.

Another "Last Judgment" is in the Corsini Gallery at Rome;--a
triptych, the side panels of which represent the "Ascension" and the
"Descent of the Holy Ghost."

This scene is, however, much more simply designed, but cannot be
fairly judged now, on account of the retouching and frequent
varnishing which disfigure it.

[Illustration: THE LAST JUDGMENT. (Rome, National Gallery.)]

The Saviour seated on the clouds, rests his left hand on a book which
he holds upright on his knees, while the right is raised in
malediction against the sinners, with an action which recalls the
Christ in the Judgment of the Camposanto at Pisa. On the sides are
groups of angels, apostles and saints; and the elect are on the right,
the wicked on the left below them. "In the picture of the Corsini
Gallery," writes Venturi, "the representation was cramped by the
narrow limits of the central panel of the triptych. It is evidently a
reduced form of preceding compositions, for several angels which
terminate the picture above, are here seen only from the waist
downwards. The figures of the elect, loving, ecstatic and beautiful,
clad in flame-coloured robes, with stars and flowers, as in similar
compositions by Fra Angelico, are absolutely sublime, while those of
the wicked are almost childish, especially the demons with faces of
cats and jackals, with red eyes and mouths, black bodies and clawed
feet. How much happier he is in the clear and joyful note of colour in
some figures standing before a door on the right! And how much better
we recognise his sweet spirit in the features of the blest, with their
clear eyes whose pupils are fixed trance-like under lightly drawn
eyebrows."[34]

[Illustration: THE LAST JUDGMENT. (Berlin Museum.)]

Another panel with a subject analogous to these is in the Berlin
Museum, and is considered superior to that in the Florentine
Gallery.[35] Although the figure of the Saviour may be slightly
wanting in character, the celestial phalanx is full of grace,
especially the blessed ones who cross a flower-strewn field to be led
by angels up to paradise; they hold each others hands, and dance and
sing delightfully and with graceful action and attitudes raise their
heads to join in the glory of _Colui che tutto move e risplende_

  Nel ciel che più della sua luce prende.

[Illustration: THE VIRGIN OF THE LINEN WEAVERS' GUILD. (Uffizi
Gallery, Florence.)]

[Illustration]

Another last Judgment forms one of the thirty-five small pictures
which adorned the doors of the presses for the silver vessels etc., in
the chapel of the SS. Annunziata. It is generally believed that he
painted this during his stay at Fiesole; but as we find it dates
posterior to this, we shall speak of it later, and must first record
that in 1432 Fra Angelico painted an "Annunciation" for the church of
Sant' Alessandro at Brescia, said to be the one on an altar to the
right on entering the church. So greatly is it transformed by
restorations, that no one in looking at it now would dream that it was
by our artist, if indeed it ever were his work. It would appear that
the restorer had used other models in repainting the Angel and the
Virgin.[36]

[Illustration]

On July 11th 1433 the contract was signed between the Consuls of the
Arte dei Linaioli (Guild of Linen Weavers) and our artist, for the
tabernacle of which they had asked Lorenzo Ghiberti to give a design.
The contract says: "We engage Fra Guido, called Fra Giovanni of the
Order of St. Dominic of Fiesole, to paint for the said Guild, a
tabernacle of Our Lady; to be painted within and without with colours,
gold, azure and silver, all of the very finest that can be found, with
all his art and diligence, and for all this and his fatigue and work,
he shall receive one hundred and ninety gold florins, or any less sum
as shall appear to his conscience, and in consideration of the figures
that are in the design."

[Illustration: ST MARK. ST. JOHN BAPTIST.]

This painting is now to be admired in the Uffizi Gallery where it was
placed in 1777; it is too universally known to need a minute
description. The Virgin enthroned with the Holy Child is surrounded by
twelve angels, the most lovely, graceful and celestial that Fra
Angelico ever painted. In the interior of the side panels are St. John
and St. Mark, in the exterior St. Peter and St. Mark. The latter, as
is well known, was the protector of the Linen Guild: "therefore," says
Padre Marchese, "they wished that whether the tabernacle were open or
closed, he should be always in their sight."

In this work Fra Angelico shows that his style was derived from Giotto
and Orcagna, though his figures with their large heads, are treated
like miniatures and become insignificant; the result is cold and void,
precisely by reason of this over conscientious execution.

The face of the Virgin lacks expression and sentiment, while the
angels depicted on the slope of the frame in act of sounding trumpets,
psalters, cymbals etc., have such a sweetness of sentiment that they
seem literally rained down from heaven.

[Illustration]



III.

FRA ANGELICO AT FLORENCE.

[1436-1445.]

[Illustration]

SAN MARCO.

[Illustration]


The church of San Giorgio--writes Vasari--"had at this time been given
to the monks of San Domenico da Fiesole, but they did not occupy it
longer than from about the middle of July to the end of January,
because Cosimo de' Medici and Lorenzo his brother had obtained for
them, from Pope Eugenius, the church and convent of San Marco, which
had previously been occupied by Salvestrine monks, to whom San
Giorgio was given in exchange. Moreover, they (Cosimo and Lorenzo de'
Medici), being much devoted to religion, and zealous for the divine
service and worship, gave orders that the above-named convent of San
Marco should be entirely rebuilt according to the design and model of
Michelozzo, commanding that it should be constructed on the most
extensive and magnificent scale, with all the conveniences that those
monks could possibly desire."[37] And in the year 1436, the said
monks made their entry with pomp and solemn fêtes, in which the three
bishops of Taranto, Treves and Parentino, took part, preceded by the
mace-bearers of the Signoria who were sent to give greater
magnificence to the scene. Fra Cipriano, Vicar general of the new
congregation of the "Osservanza," took possession of the convent in
the name of that Order.[38]

"The first part completed," continues the Aretian biographer, "was
that above the old refectory and opposite to the ducal stables, which
had formerly been erected by the Duke Lorenzo de' Medici. In this
place twenty cells were made, the roof was put on, and the various
articles of wood-work brought into the refectory, which was finished
as we see it in our day."[39]

"The library was afterwards erected, it was vaulted above and below,
and had sixty-four bookcases of cypress wood filled with the most
valuable books. The dormitory which was in the form of a square, was
next built, and finally the cloister was completed, with all the other
truly commodious apartments of that convent, which is believed to be
the most perfectly arranged, the most beautiful and most convenient
building of its kind that can be found in Italy, thanks to the skill
and industry of Michelozzo, who gave it up to its occupants entirely
finished in the year 1452.[40] Cosimo de' Medici is said to have
expended 36,000 ducats on this fabric; it is added that while it was
in course of construction, he gave the monks 366 ducats every year
for their support."[41]

In 1439, two years after the building was begun, the principal chapel
was finished, and the work of restoring and embellishing the church
was commenced. This was completed in 1441.

While the architect was engaged in restoring the church of San Marco,
Fra Giovanni was probably commissioned to paint the altar-piece for
the great altar. Vasari writes of it: "But exquisite and admirable
above all is the picture of the High Altar in that church; for besides
that the Madonna in this painting awakens devotional feeling in all
who regard her, by the pure simplicity of her expression; and that the
saints surrounding her have a similar character; the predella, in
which are stories of the martyrdom of St. Cosmo, St. Damian, and
others, is so perfectly finished, that one cannot imagine it possible
for any thing to be executed with greater care, nor can figures more
delicate, or more judiciously arranged, be conceived."[42]
Unfortunately the picture, now in the Academy of the Belle Arti, is in
such bad condition that we are not able to confirm Vasari's judgment,
for the tints have faded, in some parts leaving the undercolouring
exposed, in others it is corroded even down to the white of the
plaster ground work.

The Virgin is enthroned, holding on her lap the child, whose right
hand is uplifted to bless, while the left holds a globe. Beside the
throne are groups of angels, in front on the right St. Dominic, St.
Francis and St. Peter Martyr; on the left St. Laurence, St. Paul and
St. Mark; above them kneel Sts. Cosmo and Damian, protectors of the
Medici family, placed here in homage to the liberality of the Medici
towards the Order.

[Illustration: MADONNA AND CHILD WITH ANGELS AND SAINTS.
(Ancient and Modern Gallery, Florence.)]

In the predella, now divided, were represented various stories
relative to the lives of Sts. Cosmo and Damian, which may be
recognised in two little pictures (Nos. 257-258, Catalogue of 1893) at
the Belle Arti, and in those now at the Gallery at Munich (Nos. 989,
990, 991).

In the first of the two at Florence, the saints have cut off the leg
of a sick man, and placed that of a negro in its stead. In the second
is represented their burial together with the brethren. In those at
Munich the scenes are:--the saints constrained by the judge Lisia to
sacrifice to idols; the saints thrown into the sea and saved by
angels, while the judge is liberated from two demons by their prayers;
and lastly their crucifixion, while stones and arrows are aimed
against them, but rebound on the executioners.[43]

Other similar subjects are represented in six "stories" divided into
two panels (No. 234, Catalogue of 1893) in the Belle Arti. In the
first the saints are seen exercising the healing art without receiving
payment; they cure Palladia, who in her gratitude prays St. Damian in
the name of God to accept a gift, her brother being wrathful not
knowing the cause. In the second the judge Lisia obliges the saints
and their three brethren to sacrifice to idols; in the third the
angels save them from drowning; in the fourth they are condemned to be
burnt alive, and sing psalms in the midst of the flames; in the fifth
is the stoning; and lastly the decapitation.

These works, however, do not always show equal execution, therefore we
might judge that the artist sometimes availed himself of the hand of
an assistant.

From the records remaining to us, it does not appear that Fra Giovanni
worked at any other pictures for his church, so it is probable he gave
all his attention to adorning the convent, which on account of the
works he has left there, may fairly be considered one of the finest
monuments of Italian art.

It was not the first time that Fra Angelico had painted large mural
frescoes. As he had already shown at Fiesole his mastery in that more
minute style, which was to find more complete expression in the Roman
pictures, so the convent of San Marco gave him scope to prove his
genius also in this freer branch of art. In the cloisters, the
corridors, the cells, and the rooms in which the monks met together,
we find specimens of his artistic work, and in these various pictures
all his favourite personages reappear one by one in larger
proportions, but without losing that original grace and sentiment with
which his smaller works are imbued. Indeed these show that he had
studied from the life with independence and sincerity of purpose, and
could render it with greater facility and decision.

A very noteworthy change in the character of Fra Angelico's art may be
observed in these mural paintings. He must have perceived, after
painting the tabernacle for the Linen Weavers' Guild, that a deeper
study of the real was necessary to give life to his figures,
especially when these should assume larger proportions.

To give intelligent expression even to dreams, visions and ideality
of thought, a material and technical part is necessary; the mind may
wander free in fantasy, through indefinite space, but it needs a firm
hand to render the conception evident; and the clearer the expression
is, the greater ability in the creation of his works does it show in
the artist. Thus Fra Angelico, placing his figures in ideal
surroundings, believed at first that refined thought was sufficient to
make a perfect picture, and he illuminated his little figures with
superficial delicacy, surrounding them with azure and gold, and so
idealized them that they are more like diaphanous apparitions than
human beings.

[Illustration: CHRIST ON THE CROSS.]

But he soon learned that by merely enlarging these little pictures, he
could not succeed in giving them even that individuality to which he
was led by natural taste and mode of life. In fact, what a difference
lies between the figures of the Linen Weavers' Tabernacle painted in
1433, and those of the picture in the church of San Marco done in
1438! The first: void, weak and without expression; the second: full
of life and character; and note that this difference strikes the eye
even now, notwithstanding the difficulty of comparison owing to the
wretched condition to which the panel at San Marco is reduced.

In this cloister, therefore, where the pictures assume larger
proportions and more importance, and the figures greater character
and individuality of form, more solidity of artistic execution,--it is
here we perceive that far as he still was from the world and worldly
things, yet with earnest study and thought he had not failed to avail
himself of the progressive development of art around him to improve
his style and give more grandeur to his design.

We do not know whether the cause which influenced his mind was, that
in coming down to Florence from the Fiesole cloister he was brought
into more immediate contact with other styles of art, and artists who
followed a different, even opposite method. The distance of his
convent from the city was not, however, so great as to have prevented
his visiting the immortal works which enriched Florence, or to
diminish the relations of friendship or acquaintance which he surely
had formed with his greater colleagues. In fact, Fra Angelico and
Ghiberti must have already consulted together about the Tabernacle of
the Linen Guild; and the works which the pious monk sent from Fiesole
to the churches and convents of Florence could not have been unknown
there, any more than the works of the other artists in the city were
to him.

Certain changes independent of external causes sometimes take place
naturally, we might say spontaneously, in strong artistic
temperaments. Fra Angelico felt and understood as he continued his
work, that something was wanting in him before he could succeed in
giving reality to his thoughts and sentiment; he necessarily perfected
his studies, and investigated truth more conscientiously--the result
was the new style, a natural consequence of artistic individual
progress.

[Illustration: ST. PETER MARTYR.]

Opposite the entrance in the pretty cloister of the Florentine
convent we may admire the figure of the crucified Christ who turns His
eyes to St. Dominic kneeling below, and embracing the cross with both
hands, while raising his head to meet the glance of the Saviour. In
the five lunettes of the doors in the cloister, Fra Angelico has
represented St. Peter Martyr, St. Dominic, Christ issuing from the
sepulchre, Christ in the dress of a pilgrim, and St. Thomas Aquinas.
The figure of the crucified Saviour is nobly beautiful in its simple
and intelligent outline, firm design and life-like colouring. That of
St. Peter Martyr is full of character; it is a half figure holding
with his left hand the palm of martyrdom and a book which he rests on
his side; the first finger of the right hand is placed on his mouth,
indicating the silence of the cloister. St. Dominic has the book of
his rules in one hand and the discipline, or rope for scourging in the
other, as though to demonstrate that both moral and material influence
should govern a religious community. The "Christ of the resurrection"
shows His wounds, and St. Thomas Aquinas holds his book of theology in
both hands.

[Illustration: CHRIST ISSUING FROM THE SEPULCHRE.]

In the arch of the hospice the painter has represented two Dominicans
welcoming Christ, to remind the brethren that to offer hospitality to
the poor and the pilgrims, was the same as receiving Christ.

The Redeemer with his hat hanging behind His shoulders leans on His
pilgrim's staff; one of the brethren presses His left hand, and taking
Him by the right arm invites Him to rest. The heads of the two
devotees are full of character and expression, and on their faces beam
the joy and love they feel for their unexpected guest. The second monk
who clasps the Saviour's arm with both hands as though he can scarcely
believe his own eyes, is drawn with such natural feeling that nothing
greater can be desired or attained.

Equally beautiful is the pilgrim Christ with His long beard and curls
flowing on His shoulders; the whole scene in fact is given with great
nobility and exquisite grace.

[Illustration: CHRIST IN PILGRIM'S DRESS.]

In the chapter-house of the convent Fra Angelico repeated the scene of
the Crucifixion. Vasari writes of it thus: "Fra Giovanni was so
greatly beloved for his admirable qualities by Cosimo de' Medici,
that the latter had no sooner completed the church and convent of San
Marco, than he caused the good father to paint the whole story of the
Crucifixion of Jesus Christ on one of the walls of the chapter-house.
In this work figures of all those saints who have been heads and
founders of religious bodies, are mourning and bewailing at the foot
of the cross on one side; and on the other, St. Mark the Evangelist
beside the Mother of the Son of God, who has fainted at sight of the
crucified Saviour. Around the Virgin are the Maries, who are sorrowing
with and supporting her; they are accompanied by the saints Cosimo and
Damian.

"Beneath this work, in a frieze above the dado the master executed a
figure of St. Dominic standing at the foot of a tree; on the branches
of which are medallions, wherein are all the popes, cardinals,
bishops, saints, and masters in theology who had belonged to Fra
Giovanni's Order of the Preaching Friars, down to his own day."[44]

In this masterly work Fra Angelico pours out with full hands the most
vivid and intense feelings of his soul, and if he does not attain to
grand dramatic power, he at least succeeds in depicting with rare
ingenuity the varied expressions of sorrow, despair, hope and faith
which animate each person, and in giving natural and life-like
character and attitude to the various heads.

The group of the fainting Virgin may possibly seem conventional, but
what sweet piety is in the feeling of the other figures! St. Dominic,
devoutly kneeling, inclines his head (cleverly foreshortened and
marvellously expressed) and extends his arms to the Redeemer; St.
Zenobi (or St. Ambrose the archbishop) standing upright, points with
his right to the Saviour; St. Jerome, in hermit's dress, bends forward
and clasps his hands in prayer; St. Augustine holds his pen in one
hand, his book and pastoral staff in the other; St. Francis brings his
hand to his brow in an attitude of melancholy indefinable sadness. The
Saints Benedict, Bernard and Romuald follow, then St. Thomas Aquinas
with a most beautiful head full of life and character (it must
certainly be a portrait, so life-like is the expression), next St.
Peter Martyr with his hands on his breast; and lastly in the
foreground an unknown monk (Padre Marchese thinks it is St. John
Gualbert) who weeps, with his left hand over his eyes.[45]

[Illustration: SAN MARCO--FLORENCE THE CRUCIFIXION.]

On the left of the fresco, near the swooning Virgin, stands St. John
Baptist pointing to the Saviour; St. Mark kneeling shows his gospel;
St. Laurence clasps his hands on his breast; and St. Cosmo wrings his
hands as he contemplates the Cross; while St. Damian turns, covering
his eyes, and weeping the mournful loss of the Lord.

In the ornamentation of the simulated frame which surrounds the
fresco, are hexagonal spaces containing half figures of prophets with
labels, containing texts referring to the passion of Christ; and below
them on the right, the Erythrean Sibyl. In the lower part of the
frieze, are ten rounds, containing portraits of the most illustrious
members of the Dominican Order. In the centre St. Dominic, on the left
Pope Innocent V., Cardinal Ugone, Father Paulo the Florentine, the
Archbishop St. Antonino (this must surely have been added later), the
blessed ones Giordano of Saxony, Niccolò, Remigius the Florentine and
Buoninsegna the martyr. On the right are the blessed brethren John
Dominici, Peter of the Marshes, Albertus Magnus, St. Raymond, Chiaro
of Sesto, St. Vincent Ferreri and Bernard the martyr.

Retouches and restorations are not wanting in this picture, the
drapery has been repainted in several parts and the background has
been smudged with that reddish colour, which, in altering the tone of
the whole fresco, has injured the limpidity of colour and original
refinement of harmony.

The chronicles of the convent of San Marco record another Crucifixion
by Fra Angelico in the refectory of the monks, "probably," writes
Padre Marchese, "a replica of that which he had already painted in the
Fiesolan convent." This now no longer exists, it appears to have been
destroyed to make space for Sogliani's great fresco of St. Dominic at
table with his brethren, when they were supplied with bread by angels.
But in the cells and dormitories of the Florentine convent Fra
Angelico scattered lovely proofs of his genius and sentiment, pouring
out on them with rare talent the most exquisite grace of his brush,
and tenderest thoughts of his soul. From the "Annunciation" to the
various scenes from the life of Christ; from the "Virgin among the
saints," in the corridor, to the decoration of the room which Cosimo
had built for himself in his favourite convent, all breathe such sweet
poesy in the grace and simplicity of the varied scenes, that one
cannot look at them unmoved.

Facing the entrance of the upper corridor of the cloister he painted
the Angel bringing the glad tidings to the Virgin. We have already
noted in regard to this subject as created by him at Cortona, how the
representation finds its greater development here, where the artist
succeeds better in rendering the feeling of veneration on the part of
the heavenly messenger, and the submissive humility of the Virgin.

The same subject is repeated in a cell (No. 3), but in this design,
which breathes the same sentiment of sweetness and piety, St. Dominic
in reverent attitude is looking on.

[Illustration: THE ANNUNCIATION.]

On the wall at the left of the entrance is a Crucifixion, with St.
Dominic on his knees, embracing the cross, the figures are about half
life size, the design similar to that which we have already seen in
the cloister, but showing less ability. Nor are these the only
Crucifixions which our artist painted. He has reproduced the subject
in several cells, always varying either the attitude of the Saviour,
or the persons who adore Him, but the serene attitude of the Son of
God is unalterable. Without exaggerated contractions or violent action
He remains fixed on the cross, His head bowed in mute contemplation of
the figures below Him. These, on the contrary, are the prey of sorrow
and despair, they cover their faces, or weep distractedly at His feet.

[Illustration: "NOLI ME TANGERE."]

Some of these frescoes of the Crucifixion with St. Dominic kneeling
below, may be classed as decidedly by other hands, the execution being
weak, the drawing incorrect, and the sentiment inefficiently
expressed. These variants are doubtless attributable to the assistants
he employed in their execution.

In the fresco representing the _Noli me tangere_ Angelico gives us a
work full of freshness and life, idealized in Giottesque style. The
figure of Christ is majestic, as with a sign He withdraws Himself from
the kneeling Magdalene, who supplicatingly extends her arms towards
Him.

[Illustration: THE TRANSFIGURATION.]

Most lovely are the composition and feeling of the figures in the
"Nativity," where the Virgin and St. Joseph with joined hands kneel in
adoration of the Babe stretched on a heap of straw on the ground. A
little above, on the right stands St. Dominic, and behind the Virgin
on the left a female saint kneels, her hands clasped in prayer. In the
background beneath a humble shed are the bull and the ass, and four
adoring angels above.

[Illustration: THE RISEN CHRIST.]

In the "Transfiguration on Mount Tabor" the figure of the ascending
Christ with outstretched arms and noble features is one of Fra
Angelico's best works, but the attitudes of the Apostles are
conventional; the kneeling figure on the left with hands upraised to
express confusion and surprise at the resurrection, is too mannered,
and by its pose and action disturbs the serene harmony of the picture.

[Illustration: THE INSTITUTION OF THE HOLY SACRAMENT.]

[Illustration: THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE.]

In the "Institution of the Holy Sacrament," Fra Angelico, in true
Giottesque style, represented the Apostles at the mystic feast, and
Christ giving them the consecrated wafer, while He holds the chalice
in His left hand. Here the figures of the disciples admirably express
varied feelings of devotion and joy in receiving the divine food from
the hand of the Master. But the fresco which surpasses all, in
nobility of line and simple grandeur of conception, is the "Coronation
of the Virgin." Christ and the Virgin are seated in glory above the
light clouds, the Son places the celestial crown on the head of the
Mother who humbly bows her whole form towards Him, with hands crossed
on her bosom. Her face is irradiated by an ineffable and heavenly
smile, the supreme expression of happiness; the drapery of both is
white and delicate, enveloping the limbs with well defined folds. The
figures without being ineffectual, indeed they are even forcible, yet
appear aerial apparitions, and veritable visions of divinity. Six
saints in ecstasy assist at the triumph, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Paul,
St. Dominic, St. Francis, St. Peter Martyr and St. Benedict, three on
the right and three on the left, in a semicircular composition, all in
attitudes of contemplative ecstasy.

[Illustration: CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.]

[Illustration: THE PRAYER IN THE GARDEN.]

The frescoes of the Maries at the Sepulchre, may also be considered
one of our artist's masterpieces. The risen Christ emerges to half
His figure from the clouds which envelop Him, while the holy women
contemplate the empty sepulchre, and the angel seated in it points out
the miracle which has happened. Other scenes worthy of notice are the
"Presentation in the Temple," "Christ in Hades," and the "Buffeting of
the Saviour," and "The Prayer in the Garden."

[Illustration: ADORATION OF THE MAGI.]

[Illustration: THE CRUCIFIXION.]

In one of the last cells, the "Crucifixion" is reproduced in a new
manner, which represents Christ having ascended the ladder and
offering Himself to death: His Mother faints at his feet in the arms
of Mary Magdalene. Marchese asserts that this composition was inspired
by a legend of St. Mary Magdalene in the language of the 14th century.
"And I thought that Messer Gesù, ascended the cross by a ladder
voluntarily, offering His hands and feet. A centurion who was
afterwards saved saw the deed, and like a wise man he said within
himself, oh, what a marvel is here! that this prophet appears to
willingly place himself on the Cross, neither murmuring nor resisting!
And while he stood admiring, Messer Gesù had ascended sufficiently
high, and turning on the ladder opened His kingly arms, and extended
His hands to those who were waiting to nail them."[46]

[Illustration: THE VIRGIN ENTHRONED AMIDST SAINTS.]

Lastly in the room which Cosimo de' Medici had prepared for his own
use in the convent and where he often talked with the Prior Fra
Antonino, Fra Angelico painted an "Adoration of the Magi." As Pope
Eugene IV. slept in this room when he came to Florence in 1442 to
assist at the consecration of the church, it is probable that this
Adoration allusive to the Epiphany, at which time the consecration
took place, was painted at that epoch.

The fresco, rich in figures and beauty, is executed with real
mastery. The personages of the royal cortège vary in type and
character, in expression and sentiment, showing the great pains our
artist had taken in the painting of this important work, which now,
unhappily restored and injured, only allows us to guess at the
wonderful beauty with which it was once filled.

We see his own hand more completely in the fresco in the corridor
representing the Virgin enthroned, with the child seated on her knee
and several saints at the sides. On the right are St. Paul, St. Thomas
Aquinas, St. Laurence, and St. Peter Martyr; on the left St. Mark, St.
Cosmo and St. Damian, and St. Dominic, holding an open book where it
is written: _Caritatem habete; humilitatem servate; paupertatem
voluntariam possidete. Maledictionem Dei et meam imprecor possessiones
inducenti in meo Ordine_.

This painting, one of the most perfect in the convent, is one of
Angelico's best, and shows what a high degree of ability he had
reached. The gentle head of the Virgin bends down to look at her Son
with the golden curls, whose face with sparkling eyes breathes an
infantile grace. The execution is accurate, the figures well designed,
full of character, nobility and life; the delicacy of tone, just
balance of composition and freshness of colouring, are mingled with
the most profound sentiment and intimate knowledge of truth.

Rio thinks this fresco was done while Fra Angelico was in Tuscany
after 1450; his adieu, as it were, to his brethren; a last legacy to
that devout household with whom he had shared joys and sorrows, and
from which he was about to be separated. There is nothing to refute
this; but it appears to us that he who had painted the great
Crucifixion of the chapter-house might well have done at the same time
this fresco. It is a compendium of all his technical qualities and
feeling, and demonstrates how little by little he succeeded, while
still preserving his own spirit, in reaching the real in art, and
giving it life in a manner all his own. But in comparing the pictures
of the chapel of Pope Nicholas V. in Rome, with this fresco, we cannot
avoid noticing in those a greater freedom of composition and grouping
of the figures, a greater majesty of design, a truth and depth of
observation, not recognisable in any of his earlier works, nor even in
the large Crucifixion, which is justly considered one of the pious
monk's best works.

[Illustration]



IN THE GALLERY
OF ANCIENT AND MODERN ART.

[Illustration: ANCIENT AND MODERN GALLERY--FLORENCE THE DESCENT FROM
THE CROSS.]

[Illustration]


The enthusiasm aroused by Fra Angelico's pictures, caused a vivid
desire amongst the various religious orders of the city, to possess
some work of his; Dominicans, Vallombrosians, Chartreuse monks, and
the Camaldolese of Santa Maria degli Angeli, vied with each other, and
all in turn obtained some of his admirable creations.

Among the panels painted by Fra Giovanni for the Florentine churches
and convents, the one which excels all for intensity of sentiment and
sincerity of expression is the "Deposition from the Cross," once in
the Sacristy of Santa Trinità, and now in the Ancient and Modern
Gallery, a panel "in which," writes Vasari, "he put so much care that
we may class it among the best things he ever did."

The disciples with loving reverence let down from the Cross, which
occupies the centre of the composition, the body of the Saviour. His
face, drooping on the left shoulder, breathes a sorrowful calm, and
divine serenity which death itself could not destroy. The nude is
intelligently rendered, in nobility of form, softness of line, and
transparency and morbidity of colouring. On the left stands a group of
women; St. Mary Magdalene kisses the feet of Christ; the Virgin
contemplates Him in a trance of sadness; on the right the disciples
discuss the melancholy drama among themselves, while below, a
kneeling saint holds his right hand to his breast and extends the left
in a sorrowful wonder. In the background is a hilly landscape with the
Holy City on the left, and Mount Calvary which the artist "with poetic
and devout conceit," writes Marchese, "has drawn adorned with grass
and flowers, as though to denote that at the touch of the feet and
precious blood of Jesus Christ, the bare heights were reclad in rich
and verdant beauty. Although marred by restoration--for the eye is
offended by the inharmonious contrast of tints, the effect of
unskilful retouching,--we may consider this painting as one of the
most beautiful works which Fra Angelico has left us. Grandeur and
simplicity are marvellously blended with freshness of colour, and
correctness of design with most intense expression and pure sentiment."

The landscape in the background shows the usual defects of
perspective, but the mountains shade off delicately against the
distant blue of the sky, the plain is illuminated with infinite
flowerets, and a rich verdure clothes the summit of the sacred hill.
In the pilasters of the frame are small figures of Saints, some of the
best and finest that Fra Angelico ever painted, and in the gables
above the three arches Lorenzo Monaco has represented the "Noli me
tangere," the "Resurrection," and the "Maries at the Sepulchre."

Here the question naturally arises: Why should Lorenzo Monaco have
limited his work solely to the three little scenes in the gables of
the frame, while Fra Angelico has given us the beautiful little
figures of the pilasters which show all his peculiar grace and
refinement? Why did an artist capable of producing those admirable
saints, leave to Fra Lorenzo Monaco the office (all the worse if he
had been, as some say, his master) of finishing the work with only
those three insignificant little scenes? And can we suppose that Fra
Lorenzo Monaco, already at the apex of his fame, should accept, and,
still more strange, be content with a secondary part in Fra Giovanni's
work?

The answer is more simple than it at first appears. There is no doubt
that the scenes in the Gothic gables are the work of the Camaldolese
monk, and as we cannot logically infer that they were specially
painted by him for Fra Angelico's picture, we must suppose, and indeed
firmly believe them to have been added at a later time. In fact, the
form of the foliated Gothic decoration lacks character and does not
harmonize with the pilasters which clearly show, too, a subsequent
adaptation of the frame. The finials of the pilasters do not match the
style of the gables, in fact it is clear that the Gothic
ornamentation, taken from some painting by Lorenzo Monaco, was at a
more recent date adapted to Fra Angelico's altar-piece.

Fra Giovanni painted a panel picture of the "Dead Christ" for the
"Compagnia del Tempio" in Florence; this is now in the Ancient and
Modern Gallery, having been placed there in 1786, after the
suppression of that Company.

[Illustration: THE DEAD CHRIST.]

Rio supposes that the enthusiasm aroused by the great Deposition in
Santa Trinità, tempted the Company to covet the possession of a
similar one.[47]

Only two figures, however, are common to the two paintings: one is the
St. Simeon kneeling in the left corner who, in this second picture, is
represented as a younger man than in the first; the other is a figure
a little behind him, which is a reproduction of that one in the large
Deposition with a hood on his head, who is speaking to the disciple
below him, as he entrust to him the body of the Saviour;--a figure
which Milanesi believes to be a portrait of the architect Michelozzo.

If this be indeed Fra Angelico's friend the Florentine architect, we
may admit Cartier's assertion that this panel is a sequel of the
larger Descent from the Cross, and may have been painted at the same
time.[48] But these are things which we dare not affirm with any
certainty, as we entertain doubts regarding the greater or less
authenticity of writers on the subject of Michelozzo's portrait.

Besides many figures of saints, the painter has introduced those of
St. Dominic and the Beata Villana, because the Company of the Temple
had ancient rights over the relics of this good woman which are
preserved in the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella. The other
figures, though expressing divers feelings of sorrow and lively
sympathy, have nothing in common with the famous Deposition either in
character or technique and the picture does not reach the usual
perfection.

Even the type of the Christ differs remarkably in the two paintings,
so much so that no comparison can be instituted, or resemblance found
between them; moreover, the panel of the Temple Company is badly
spoilt by restoration, and the colouring is so altered that it is
almost black in some parts.

"In the Chapel of the SS. Annunziata at Florence which Piero di Cosimo
de' Medici caused to be built, Fra Angelico painted the doors of the
presses where the silver plate is kept, with little figures executed
with great diligence."[49] They represent the life and death of Christ
in 35 small scenes, which are now in the Ancient and Modern Gallery.

Padre Marchese writes: "I believe it was in Fiesole that he painted
many of those little panels, which may now be seen in the Gallery of
the Florentine Academy of Design, and perhaps also the doors of the
presses for the silver vessels in the chapel of the SS. Annunziata at
Florence. In his first edition Vasari had enumerated them among his
early works, which may have seemed probable, as Fra Angelico's first
steps in art were in illuminating and painting small stories."[50]

But as it was only in 1448 that Piero de' Medici, to show his devotion
to the Virgin of the Annunciation, obtained from the monks the
patronage of that altar with the intention of adorning it with a
splendour worthy of the dignity of Her to whom it was dedicated,[51]
we cannot suppose that Fra Angelico painted the door of its treasure
presses before that time.

Rio also dates at the epoch of the monk's sojourn in Tuscany towards
1450, the great unfinished painting now in the Academy of the Belle
Arti, which has been regarded as one of Fra Angelico's first works. We
know as a fact that in 1450 he was prior of the convent at Fiesole,
and may believe that he stayed some time in Tuscany, before returning
to Rome to finish the chapel of Pope Nicholas V.[52] But Rio adds that
"besides the date of the building of the chapel, the fact that the
portrait of Michelozzo represents him as older in this work than in
the Deposition," suggests for this cyclic composition an approximative
date, very far from that assigned to it previously.[53]

We must not forget, however, that several doubts arise as to the
identity of the person representing Michelozzo.

Vasari recognises him in that old Nicodemus with a hood, who lowers
the Christ from the cross in the Deposition, while Milanesi, asserting
that Nicodemus has a saint's aureole not a cowl, holds that the
portrait of Michelozzo is to be seen in the figure with a black hood
who speaks with the disciple beneath him as he gives the body of the
Lord into his hands. Certainly Milanesi has good reason to doubt
Vasari's assertion, as Nicodemus has no hood: moreover Vasari himself
in his second edition of the Lives (1568) assigns as the architect's
likeness that very figure with a cowl who is speaking to the disciple.
Therefore we must admit that the Aretian Historian was mistaken either
in his indication of the figure, or in the reproduction of it as a
headpiece to his Life of Michelozzo.

In any case, a similar figure to that in the "Deposition," and with
the same head-gear, again appears a little older in the fresco of the
convent of San Marco representing the "Adoration of the Magi"; also in
another picture of the "Presentation in the Temple"; and in the little
square with a "Flight into Egypt", on one of the doors of SS.
Annunziata.

[Illustration: FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.]

If Michelozzo be really portrayed here, we must conclude that the
Deposition was painted long before 1442, and the press doors about the
same time, or a little later; but the student must take into account
the curious fact that in the "Deposition" the disciple who talks to
the man with a cowl above him, has also a certain resemblance to the
supposed Michelozzo, and that Nicodemus reappears as St. John Baptist
on the left of the large altar-piece painted for the church of San
Marco, as well as in the picture of the dead Christ, and also as the
kneeling King who kisses the feet of the Babe in the fresco of the
"Adoration of the Magi."

Therefore, without giving great importance to the question of the true
portrait of Michelozzo, we find that these heads, whether of Nicodemus
or the hooded disciple, are represented in various pictures by our
artist, modified by age, so that from them we may establish the
succession of the different works, i. e. first the "Dead Christ" of
the Company of the Temple, next the picture at San Marco (1438), then
the "Deposition," and lastly the fresco in San Marco, and the little
"Annunciation." Thus all these works would certainly date during Fra
Angelico's stay in Florence.

But to return to the doors of the presses in the SS. Annunziata, it is
true, as Rio writes, that instead of being a series of subjects for
future frescoes or altar-pieces, the "stories" seem a hasty resumé,
often too hasty, of works already painted in the convent of San Marco
or other places. Some of them are noticeable for firmness of design
and vigour of colouring, others instead are unworthy of the master and
evidently show another hand.

[Illustration: CHRIST BETRAYED BY JUDAS.]

[Illustration: THE RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS.]

To give this great work its due appreciation we must take it as a
whole, as the profound genius of Fra Angelico had conceived it.
Wishing to give it the unity of a dramatic poem, he placed at the
beginning and at the end, like a prologue and an epilogue, two
symbolic figures, in the last of which the seven branched candlestick
serves as a support to the Old and New Testaments.[54]

We may enumerate among the best scenes the "Flight into Egypt," the
"Slaughter of the Innocents," the "Betrayal of Judas," the "Dead
Christ," and the "Resurrection of Lazarus," all composed in Giottesque
style: but, when we think of the progress of Fra Angelico in art as
shown in the frescoes in San Marco, and his best panel paintings, we
cannot avoid noticing a certain want of vigour in these presses.

[Illustration: THE SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS.]

[Illustration: ENTOMBMENT OF CHRIST.]

Having become accustomed to the grander methods of fresco painting, in
which his talent and ability found greater scope for expression,--even
though not attaining to the ease and force of some of his
contemporaries and followers,--Fra Angelico must have now found
himself at the disadvantage, natural to one who, after moving free in
wider space, is suddenly cramped into narrower confines. This explains
why we find in some of these small panels, greater conventionality in
the representation of scenes and action, and less ease and correctness
of execution. We might add also, that many of them, where these
defects are especially evident, may be ascribed to other hands, less
clever than his own, those of his assistants who were called in to
expedite the work and assist the artist.

[Illustration: CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN.]

Rio believes that two of Angelico's paintings, one of which was once
in the Dominican monastery of San Vincenzo d' Annalena, and the other
in that of the Frati dell'Osservanza in Mugello, but now both at the
Belle Arti, were executed later than the frescoes in the Vatican, to
which they offer an extraordinary resemblance, not perceivable in the
artist's earlier works.[55]

[Illustration: THE SYMBOLIC WHEEL.]

We cannot, however, accept the assertion of the French critic. These
two pictures, though utterly different in character and type, too
forcibly recall his previous works. And as according to the same
author the altar-piece of the monks [55] of the Mugello resembles the
other in colouring, technique, the freer style of drapery, the type of
the Virgin and character of the figures, we might reasonably conclude
that both paintings belong to the period of his residence at Fiesole
or Florence, i. e. previous to his departure for Rome in 1445.

[Illustration: THE MADONNA AND CHILD WITH SAINTS.
(Annalena Convent.)]

[Illustration: THE MADONNA AND CHILD WITH ANGELS AND SAINTS.
(From the Convent of the Osservanza.)]

We are even less inclined to endorse the opinion of Rio in regard to
the date of the painting from the Annalena Convent. The internal
organization of the convent was only regulated by a bull of Pope
Nicholas V. after 1450, so there is probably no connection between the
internal establishment of the convent and the Commission for the
picture.

The convent (it is well to remember) was founded in 1453, but the
religious intentions of Anna Elena Malatesta met with no slight
resistance, and it was not till 1455, that Pope Calixtus III. conceded
her permission to "build in her house a public oratory in which mass
should be celebrated and the divine Offices performed." We cannot then
admit that the picture was specially painted for the convent named[56]
after that saintly lady. When one reflects that Anna Elena Malatesta,
foundress of the monastery, was educated in the house of Attilio di
Vieri de' Medici, and was by Cosimo Pater Patriæ married to Baldaccio
of Anghiari, it is not unlikely that the picture had been a commission
from Cosimo, and that when Annalena was left a widow, and took the
vows in 1441, it was offered by him to the convent, to which the sad
widow had consecrated all her care. It is the more probable, that it
was painted for the Medici, because the two patron saints of their
house are represented in it.

SS. Cosmo and Damian only appear in the pictures painted by Fra
Angelico in Florence, probably in recognition of the benefits bestowed
by Cosimo on the monks of San Marco; moreover, we do not think the
work could have been done at Fiesole after the first visit to Rome in
1452, because the figures, weak in chiaroscuro, are still treated as
if they were enlarged miniatures, and do not show the character of his
later works. On the other hand the picture of the Osservanza in
Mugello displays the whole power of the artist, and may be compared,
as Rio says, to the panel at San Marco both in the character of the
figures and the larger style of treatment.

Vasari cites other works which have unfortunately been dispersed or
destroyed, among which were an altar-piece in the Certosa at Florence,
representing the "Virgin and Child," with some angels below, and at
the sides St. Laurence, St. Zenobi, and St. Benedict; the "Coronation
of the Madonna," once in the lunette of the Acciajoli chapel: another
with the "Virgin and two saints," painted "con azzurri oltramarini
bellissimi," (with beautiful ultramarine blues): and the pictures in
the dividing wall of Santa Maria Novella opposite the choir. The
"Annunciation," which according to Vasari was in the church of San
Francesco at San Miniato, and which Milanesi believes to be in the
Museum of Madrid, is instead now in the National Gallery at London. It
is a diptych, in one panel the archangel Gabriel, with golden wings
outspread, crossing his hands on his breast bows before the Virgin,
who in the other panel leans forward to listen to his blessed word.
The scene is in a cloister, from the arches of which a field of
flowers is seen, and in the distant horizon the outlines of the
Apennine mountains. A great lily blossoms beside the Virgin, the two
capitals of the columns of the cloister have the Albizzi arms carved
on them.

"This good Father painted so many pictures for the houses of the
citizens of Florence, that one wonders how one man could so perfectly
execute even in many years all that he has done." So writes Vasari,
and indeed a complete list of his paintings still existing in Italy
and elsewhere would be too long; those we have illustrated will,
however, suffice to give a good idea of his artistic genius, and the
sentiment with which this gentle artist could represent the marvellous
visions of a soul in love with heaven!

[Illustration: THE LAST SUPPER.]



IV.

FRA ANGELICO
AT ROME AND ORVIETO.

[1445-1455.]

[Illustration: CHRIST IN JUDGMENT. (Orvieto, Cathedral.)]


These many and various labours--writes Vasari--"having rendered the
name of Fra Giovanni illustrious throughout all Italy, he was invited
to Rome by Pope Nicholas V., who caused him to adorn the chapel of the
palace, where the pontiff is accustomed to hear mass, with a
"Deposition from the Cross," and with certain events from the life of
San Lorenzo, which are admirable."[57]

But Vasari errs in giving to Nicholas V. the merit of having called
Fra Angelico to Rome; he is also mistaken in affirming that the artist
was offered the archbishopric of Florence, and on his modest refusal
Sant' Antonino was proposed to the Pope: "and because Fra Giovanni
appearing to the Pope to be, as he really was, a person of most holy
life, gentle and modest, the archbishopric of Florence having then
become vacant, he judged him worthy of that preferment."[58]

It was instead Pope Eugene IV., who wishing to embellish the Vatican
with pictures, invited Fra Angelico to Rome in 1445, having admired
his sanctity of life, and talent in art when in Florence. That Pope
died the following year, but in his successor Nicholas V., Fra
Angelico found another sincere admirer and friend, and he remained in
Rome to finish the works he had begun. He painted two chapels in the
Vatican, the one of the Sacrament for Eugene IV., the other for Pope
Nicholas V., whose name it still bears. The former was pulled down by
Pope Paul III. to improve the staircase.

"In this work," says Vasari, "which was an excellent one, Fra Giovanni
had in his own admirable manner painted stories in fresco from the
life of Christ, and had introduced many portraits of eminent persons
then living. These portraits would most probably have been lost to us,
had not Paulo Jovius caused the following among them to be preserved
for his Museum: Pope Nicholas V., the Emperor Frederick, who had at
that time arrived in Italy; Fra Antonino, who afterwards became
Archbishop of Florence; Biondo da Forlì, and Ferdinand of
Arragon."[59]

It is probable that after having finished the chapel of the Sacrament,
and before the new commission was given by Nicholas V., Fra
Angelico--by means of Don Francesco di Barone of Perugia, a
Benedictine monk and celebrated master of glass painting--entered into
negotiation with the Operai and Consuls of the Duomo at Orvieto, to
paint the chapel of the Madonna di San Brizio. But before he accepted
the commission he gave them to understand that he could only go to
Orvieto in the months of June, July and August, when he did not wish
to remain in Rome.

"He demanded 200 gold ducats a year, together with all expenses of
board and lodging, colours and scaffolding; besides seven ducats a
month for his assistant, and two for his boy. The contract was signed
on these conditions by Messer Enrico Monaldeschi, the principal
citizen--almost the tyrant--of Orvieto, who always took a personal
part in the most important events of the city. Fra Angelico took with
him Benozzo di Lese, Giovanni di Antonio da Firenze, and Iacomo di
Poli, with whose assistance he commenced the painting in the large
lunettes on June 15th 1447. Pietro di Niccola of Orvieto was also
employed. They painted together for three months and a half, but Fra
Angelico did not return the following year.

"As the summer of 1449 drew near, the overseers, who were left with
only Pietro Baroni, a proved artist, endeavoured to persuade Fra
Angelico to go back again, and join Baroni, saying that if he failed
them, they would prefer to postpone the work, as they looked more to
the beauty than the expense, as they always had been accustomed to do.
When every hope of obtaining Fra Angelico was lost, they gave Benozzo
Gozzoli a trial to continue Fra Giovanni's frescoes,"[60] but the
effect was not happy.

[Illustration: THE PROPHETS. (Orvieto, Cathedral.)]

Fra Angelico painted in the roof of the chapel a "Christ in Judgment,"
surrounded by a "glory" of angels. Sixteen saints and prophets are
seated on clouds with the motto: _Prophetarum laudabilis numerus_. The
Saviour in a circle of light raises His right hand on high, while the
left supports a globe on His knees. On both sides are groups of angels
in varied attitudes of adoration. The prophets stand out in pyramidal
groups on a background of gold, and are either reading or meditating
with religious calm. Rosini judges the Christ to be the work of
Benozzo Gozzoli, because it seems inferior to the prophets, which show
a grander treatment and better execution. "I think," he writes, "that
the prophets alone belong to Fra Angelico; the Christ in glory, and
the remainder to Benozzo and the others. I am led to this not only by
their different style, but the heads of the prophets, although they
are disposed one above the other, as the space demands, show the more
dignified style, and perfect execution of the Florentine monk. That
perfection ought to be seen also in the Christ, which seems to me to
be a little inferior to them."[61]

But even while admitting that the features of the Saviour have in some
parts the characteristics of Benozzo's style, we must not forget that
he derived from his master both his good and bad points, and from the
latter especially originated those peculiar defects, which are greatly
emphasized in Benozzo's works. Hence it is natural that something of
the scholar's manner should appear in that face, but it is no proof
that he has worked at it. On the contrary it is enough to prove the
impossibility of ascribing this figure to him, to glance at the head
of Christ in Benozzo's fresco in the church of St. Francis at
Montefalco, representing the meeting of St. Francis and St. Dominic.
High up on the left the Saviour raises His right hand and the Virgin
kneels at His feet. Now all the figures are absolutely wanting in
dignity and character, especially the downcast head of Christ, with
its projecting forehead and receding chin, which is absolutely vulgar.
Here Benozzo has not even distantly remembered any of his master's
noble representations of the Saviour. Therefore not only had he no
part in that figure at Orvieto, but neither could he have done the
prophets, for they are far superior to the Christ. Finally, it is not
probable that Fra Angelico, with the feeling which inspired his work,
should entrust to an assistant the execution of such an important
figure as the Christ.

Even though the figure of the Christ is not to be compared to the
finest of the prophets, yet we find in the countenance the same
characteristics as the other heads display. True, it looks worse than
it really is, for a crack in the roof has damaged the mouth and beard,
and the fresco has besides suffered in the restorer's hands.

It is a known fact, that a few months after Fra Angelico left, it was
necessary to repair the roof of the chapel in which he had worked, on
account of the rain that percolated there, to the great detriment of
the paintings.

However this may be, it is certain that the heads of the prophets have
sweetness of expression and nobility of character, and all the figures
are remarkable for their fine form, dignified attitudes, free and
simple draperies, combined with bright and vivid colouring. These
qualities are not so visible in the compartment of our Lord and the
adoring angels, which may with more certainty be attributed to
Benozzo.

Fra Angelico returned to Rome on the 28th of September in that year
(1447) and never went back to Orvieto, but his reasons for breaking
his contract and leaving a work incomplete are not explained.

Perhaps he perceived the difficulties of the composition and was
arrested by the terrifying dread--which his character and feeling
would have magnified--of painting a Last Judgment in such grand
proportions. Or he may have had an intuition, that his work would
never be worthy of that famous building, especially as he was called
on to depict the punishments of hell and the various feelings of
sorrow, passion and despair in the damned souls, sentiments so
foreign to his own nature. Or possibly the desire to finish the
paintings entrusted to him in Rome by the new Pontiff Nicholas V.,
induced him to break his contract. In the absence of more precise
records it is difficult to establish the truth.

Certain it is that Fra Angelico left Orvieto for Rome and that he
painted there a "Studio" or Chapel for Nicholas V., for which the
payment is entered in a register dated 1449, but "after this year,"
writes Müntz, "we find no more traces of the illustrious Dominican, in
the books of the secret treasury."[62]

On January 10th 1452 Fra Angelico is again at Fiesole as prior of his
convent, and in the same year the rulers of the Commune of Prato
employed the good offices of Archbishop Antonino to induce Fra
Angelico to paint the principal chapel of their church; but he
refused, and the commission was given to Filippo Lippi.

The fact that the name of the Dominican artist has not been found in
the registers of the Vatican Treasury after 1449, need not necessarily
be taken as a proof that he was not working in the Chapel of Nicholas
V. at a later date. Indeed, as he went no more to Orvieto, and would
not undertake to paint the Choir of the Prato Cathedral, it seems
probable that he should have gone back to Rome to finish his work
there.

The chapel which preserves these precious frescoes by Angelico may be
considered one of the most famous monuments of Italian art.

On three of the walls, he has represented in two lines of frescoes the
Vocation, the Apostleship, and the Martyrdom of St. Stephen and St.
Laurence. On the first side St. Stephen receives the Communion from
St. Peter, and distributes alms to the poor: on the second are his
preaching and justification before the high priest: in the third his
lapidation. Below on the first wall is the consecration of St.
Laurence, and his almsgiving to the poor and maimed; second, his
imprisonment and the conversion of the jailer; and lastly his
martyrdom.

The design is free and firm, yet keeping true to the character of the
artist. The execution is more accurate and equal; although less
realistic than that of Masaccio, yet he succeeds in giving his figures
a greater grace and softer expression, indeed, the sentiment with
which he imbues his figures, was never reached by any other artist,
and that sentiment is here more admirably expressed than in any other
of his works.

[Illustration: CHAPEL OF POPE NICHOLAS V. VATICAN--ROME. ST. LAWRENCE
ORDAINED DEACON BY POPE SIXTUS II.]

[Illustration: THE PREACHING AND JUSTIFICATION OF ST. STEPHEN.
(Vatican, Rome.)]

Whether St. Stephen be kneeling in wrapt devotion to take the chalice,
or with the love of divine charity giving money to the woman, while
the little child gives him its hand; whether touching his thumb he
seems to explain some religious question, while some women seated
there hang on his words, exchange their impressions, or ecstatically
clasp their hands in sign of admiration or faith; whether he speak
before the Great Council, or is conducted at last torture, supporting
it with faith and resignation;--his noble figure always inspires a
feeling of profound piety, of serene calm and personal devotion.

Although the representation of buildings is still too fantastic, the
perspective is not neglected as in some other works. In the
"Ordination of St. Stephen," the design of the interior of the church
is in good architectural style, but the canopy above the altar is so
low in proportion to the figure of St. Peter, that if he were to rise
to his full height he could not stand at the altar; in another the
open space in which St. Stephen is preaching has a fortress on the
right, and a palace of very doubtful character in the background. The
details of ornamentation, however, are very carefully designed, the
motives of the decoration being refined and elegant. The pilasters
with their pretty candelabra and capitals rich with sculpture, combine
so harmoniously with the purer architectural forms, as to produce a
most pleasing effect and show the result of his studies among the
numberless remains of ancient Rome.

[Illustration: CHAPEL OF POPE NICHOLAS V.--VATICAN--ROME.
POPE SIXTUS II CONSIGNS THE TREASURES OF THE CHURCH TO ST. LAURENCE.]

The St. Laurence series is not less beautiful. It is marvellous that
Fra Angelico could express motives so analogous to the former set of
frescoes without repeating himself. Sixtus II., drawn with the
lineaments of Nicholas V., consecrates to the diaconal office St.
Laurence, who reverently kneeling extends both hands to receive the
sacramental cup. Around them are some fine figures of ecclesiastics,
who, robed in magnificent vestments, assist at the ceremony, together
with deacons and acolytes, who hold the book and censer. There is, it
is true, a great sameness in the heads, which suggests that most of
them were studied from the same model.

In another fresco, the Pope consigns the treasures of the church to
the saint, while a monk turns brusquely round at the noise made at the
door by two soldiers who come to conduct St. Laurence to martyrdom.
But where Fra Angelico has best succeeded in fully rendering his
sentiment, is in the painting which represents the distribution of
alms. Angelico evidently delights in the thought of the inner
satisfaction of the saint, and the happiness of the recipients; and
the sincere and serene joy transfused in the countenances of the
different figures is expressed with unusual ability and extraordinary
truth to nature.

He has enlivened the severity of the scene by the episode of two
children, who are laughingly struggling over a piece of money
received. Infantile grace and content breathe in their features,
though slightly disturbed by the doubt which of them will remain
possessor of the precious gift.

The two last frescoes are very attractive and equally admirable. One
represents the condemnation of St. Laurence, the other his martyrdom.
The study of classic art is still more manifest in these than in the
others, for not only the architecture, but even the niches which
contain statues are imitated from the antique.

In the "Condemnation" the Emperor Decius wears a cuirass with a toga
over it fastened on the right shoulder, as in the ancient imperial
busts. His sceptre is terminated by a little idol, and above his
throne is the Roman eagle with outspread wings, in a garland of bay
leaves: in the other fresco the statues appear to be reproductions of
ancient Roman monuments. But unfortunately this last picture has been
so injured and restored that we cannot fully appreciate its value.

[Illustration: CHAPEL OF POPE NICHOLAS V.--VATICAN--ROME.
ST. LAURENCE GIVE THE CHURCH MONEY TO THE POOR.]

[Illustration: ST. BONAVENTURE.]

The execution of these pictures is really remarkable. Fra Angelico, as
we have said, without losing his fundamental qualities, has acquired
and here reveals new qualities; the four Evangelists among the clouds
on a background of blue, dotted with golden stars, are noble and full
of character; the figures of the saints on the simulated pilasters,
and at the corners of each side of the chapel, might be classed among
Fra Angelico's best. Who does not remember above the rest the fine and
noble figure of St. Bonaventure, with his flowing white beard,
thoughtful eyes, and an aspect of goodness and seriousness combined
that is quite enchanting? What other figure, however beautiful, can
show such just proportions, solid form, and majestic design, such a
strong character and expression as this? The saint's thoughtful gaze
is turned to the left, his mouth lightly indicating a smile, or rather
the sweet expression of innate goodness, the marvellously drawn hands
support an open book which rests on his side. Here Fra Angelico
reveals his skill in all its fulness; and when we reflect on his
advanced age, we can only remain in admiring surprise before the
freshness of his creative power, and the force of his execution.

We have documental evidence that Benozzo Gozzoli assisted his master
in these frescoes, and doubtless we may attribute to him the fine
decorations, where roses bud amidst flowers and foliage of every kind,
and garlands are resting on pretty little children's heads, or are
festooned on medallions bearing the tiara, and crossed keys of
Nicholas V.; but we cannot give him the merit of having beautified the
scenes of the "Preaching of St. Stephen," or "St. Laurence
distributing alms."[63]

[Illustration: CHAPEL OF POPE NICHOLAS V. VATICAN--ROME.
ST. LAURENCE CONDEMNED TO MARTYRDOM.]

We admit the probability that Benozzo may have executed some of the
figures, but there is a difference between this and supposing that he
had any conspicuous part in the compositions, especially in the St.
Laurence series, which we cannot believe. If the whole scene were
indeed by Benozzo, would not the difference of hand between master and
scholar be more strikingly evident? And the more so, as the scholar
had not yet reached mastery of technique, and his early frescoes show
a certain crudeness, want of harmony and incorrectness of design,
which far remove them from the proved technical ability of his master.
Nor can we believe that he timidly followed the lines traced on the
walls by Fra Angelico, for even in that case something peculiar to
himself must have been clearly perceptible in them. Now this, to speak
frankly, is not evident.

None of the women assisting at the preaching of St. Stephen recall the
characteristic type of those which Benozzo painted in the frescoes at
Montefalco. The saint's listeners have regular features, and remind
one of the various female figures in the San Marco frescoes
("Resurrection of Christ" and "Prayer on the Mount of Olives").
Benozzo's handling is less solid, his outlines are hard and sharp,
colouring crude and chiaroscuro weak; in the stories of St. Laurence
we find instead, and in a very high degree, the solidity and
correctness which we have admired in Fra Angelico's Florentine
paintings.

It suffices to recall the "Adoration of the Magi," in San Marco, one
of his last works before leaving for Rome, and the beautiful prophets
at Orvieto; in both these pictures we meet with the same types and
figures as in the Roman frescoes, especially in those representing
"St. Peter ordaining St. Stephen," "St. Laurence distributing alms,"
and "St. Stephen before the high priest." Without then following up
doubtful suppositions, it does not seem admissible that Fra Angelico,
old as he was, should have ceded to his pupil either the direction,
or the greater part of works of such importance, which it was greatly
to his interest to finish with the utmost care and perfection.

Cavalcaselle remarks that the severity of the Orvietans who would not
let Benozzo finish the work which Fra Angelico had left incomplete, is
inexplicable; but we must remember that though Benozzo imitated his
master's style, the inferiority of his talent was always apparent in
the common types, false anatomy, and mistaken proportions of his
figures. "He does not equal the master who guided him in his first
years, but he follows his style as much as he can, with less
talent."[64]

It was not therefore Benozzo's work which enlarged the master's style,
but in the Vatican frescoes the master clearly [64] shows the effort
he has himself made to render the action of his figures more grand,
his painting more solid, figures more characteristic and the episodes
with which his admirable compositions are enriched more fundamentally
truthful.

These paintings prove that he had reached his greatest artistic
development; although always retaining his innate character he
concedes to the new requirements of art as much of his temperament
and sentiment, as he can conscientiously yield. Thus his works display
a continuous improvement, each new stage in the long road of his
artistic career, represents a fresh conquest, a new and remarkable
progress. His pupils and collaborators limited themselves to aiding
him, and rendering his work lighter in parts of secondary importance,
but he needed no other help to be, and always remain, worthy of the
high company in which he finds himself in the Vatican.

In the Sixtine Chapel, near the quiet creations of the artists of the
Renaissance, the power and awful force of Michelangelo stand out; in
the "Stanze" Raphael has left an everlasting wealth of artistic
treasures; and in the Chapel of Nicholas V. Fra Angelico with
ingenuous expression and the purest and most sincere religious
feeling, painted his master-piece.

But notwithstanding the great difference between the former giants of
art, and our saintly artist, he is quite worthy of their glorious
company.

The sweet gentleness of his character was all that hindered him from a
more exact and deep study of reality, but it was precisely by means of
this character that he succeeded, as no one else could do, in
expressing the elevated ideas of his serene and calm soul, profound
inspiration and naïve freshness of faith.

In 1455 after a life entirely dedicated to art, Fra Giovanni, at the
age of 68 years, died in Rome, having well earned the grateful
veneration of posterity. The austere virtues of his soul gained him
the title of _Beato_ (blessed) and for the lovely lines traced by his
brush, he was called _Angelico_. A marble monument was erected over
his tomb in the church of the Minerva, with his effigy and the
following inscription, said to have been dictated by Pope Nicholas V.
himself:

  HIC JACET VEN. PICTOR
  FR. JO. DE FLOR. ORD. P.
           M
        C C C C
           L
           V
  Non mihi sit laudi, quod eram velut alter Apelles,
     Sed quod lucra tuis omnia, Christe, dabam;
  Altera nam terris opera extant, altera coelo;
     Urbs me Joannem Flos tulit Etruriæ.

"Give me not praise for being almost a second Apelles, but because I
gave to thy poor, O Christ, all my earnings. Thus part of my work
remains on earth and part in heaven. My home was in that city, which
is the Flower of Etruria."

[Illustration]



[FOOTNOTES]


[1] Vasari, Sansoni's edition, II, p. 520.

[2] Buckhardt und Boue, _Cicerone_.

[3] _Storia della Pittura_, II, p. 360.

[4] Guido was Fra Angelico's baptismal name in the world.

[5] Marchese, _Memorie dei più insigni pittori, scultori e architetti
domenicani_, I, p. 267. Bologna, Romagnoli 1878.

[6] Cavalcaselle, _Storia della Pittura_, II, p. 234.

[7] Vasari, _Vita di Masaccio_, II, p. 299.

[8] Museo civico. Sala 6, n. 7.

[9] Cartier, _Vie de Fra Angelico_. Paris, 1857, p. 356.

[10] Vasari, II, p. 518.

[11] Vasari, II, p. 528, note i. The translations from Vasari are
from Bohn's edition.

[12] Ibid., II, p. 528.

[13] Vasari, II, p. 505.

[14] Vasari, vol. II, p. 512.

[15] Translation:

    I raise my eyes, sweet Mary I behold,
  With book in hand; an angel form is near.

    It is the shining angel Gabriel
  Who kneels before her in humility,
  And saith: "Fear not, pure Virgin, I from heaven
  A messenger from God omnipotent
  Come down to bring glad tidings unto thee,
  For he hath chosen thee for his blest spouse."

    He saith again: "In heaven it is decreed
  Thou shalt be mother of the Son of God,
  Therefore the Father me, his angel, sends
  To swift fulfil his sacred will and law.
  And down from him the highest Lord to bring
  This benediction unto which thou'rt called."

    The angel's heaven-sent words were so inflamed
  With sacred love's own virtue did they burn
  They truly seemed to fall from God above.
  With holy joy her beating heart was full:
  "Behold," she said, "the handmaid of the Lord,
  Be it to me according to his word."

    But as she sat within her archèd cell
  She wondered greatly how this thing should be:
  "For I know not, nor speak with any man,"
  To Gabriel she timidly responds.
  Then quoth he: "Mary Hail! thou favoured art,
  And full of grace, the Lord is with thee now."

    And then came down the spirit of the Lord,
  A ray of golden light shone round about,
  It pierced her breast, that fruitful heaven-sent ray,
  And from her womb, whose virgin purity
  Was still inviolate, was born the Christ
  While she a mother, was pure Virgin still.

    Oh! lovers true, come hither unto her:
  Madonna she of grace and beauty fair,
  The earth and air but live for her sweet sake,
  The queen of heaven, and pillar of the world:
  He who would see the lovely damosel
  One this Annunciation he should gaze.

From an anonymous "Laud" reprinted by Galletti, n. CCLXVIII, p. 121.

[16] Op. cit., I, p. 293.

[17] _Vie de Fra Angelico_, p. 243.

[18] Year 1894, p. 370.

[19] Vol. II, p. 510.

[20] Vol. I, p. 297.

[21] Vasari, II, p. 510, note 1.

[22] _Pictures in the National Gallery_, with descriptive text written
by C. L. Eastlake. No. I, p. 10.

[23] Vasari, II, p. 510.

[24] This valuable painting was ceded by the monks of the "Scalzi" to
the Museum of Madrid in 1861 at the suggestion of Señor Don Federigo
de Madrazo.--_Catalogue of the Museum of Prado_, Don Pedro de Madrazo
1889, p. 19.

[25] Vasari, II, p. 510 and 511.

[26] Müntz, _Histoire de l'art pendant la Renaissance--Les
Primitifs_--p. 653 and 658.

[27] Op. cit., I, p. 308.

[28] _La Sculpture Florentine_, Alinari, 1897, p. 152.

[29] Vasari, II, p. 515.

[30] _Par._, Canto XXXI (Carey's translation).

[31] _Par._, Canto XXX (Carey's translation).

[32] The _caròla_ was a kind of sacred dance, in which the dancers
holding hands move in a circle, singing as they go. It was supposed to
be the dance of Paradise.--(_Translator's note_.)

[33] Translation:

    In Paradise that garden lies
  Where love divine eternal shines,
  And holy Saints _carolas_ weave,
  Their souls inflamed with sacred love.

    The Saints in that bright joyous ring,
  With Angels fair of all degrees,
  Before the Bridegroom graceful move
  And weave the dance of sacred love.

    Those heavenly courts are full of grace,
  With love immeasurable filled,
  All in the dance angelic move
  Inspired by their sweet Saviour's love.

    Their robes of linen pure are made,
  White, roseate, and of mingled hues;
  Fair garlands on their heads they wear,
  Fit crowns to crown them priests of love.

    No head is there ungarlanded,
  And youthful beams each joyous face;
  In that bright court refreshed they move
  Where everything o'erflows with love.

    The garlands made of blossoms fair,
  Shine brighter than the purest gold,
  The pearly daisies glisten there
  Emblazoning the heavenly love.

[34] Venturi, _Le Gallerie Italiane_. _La Galleria Nazionale di Roma_,
vol. II, p. 89.

[35] See _Gazette de Beaux Arts_, 1888. W. Bode, _La Renaissance au
Musée de Berlin_; IV. _Les Peintres Florentins du XVme siècle_, p.
473.

[36] Cavalcaselle, _Storia della Pittura_, II, p. 369, note 2.
Venturi thinks that the picture approaches more to the art of Gentile
da Fabriano. See Vasari, _Gentile da Fabriano e Pisanello_. Firenze,
Sansoni, 1897, p. x.

[37] Vasari, II, _Vita di Michelozzo_, p. 440.

[38] Richa, _Le Chiese Fiorentine_, VII, p. 117.

[39] Vol. II, p. 440. In October 1438 the monks demanded a subsidy to
rebuild the dormitory which had been destroyed by fire. Gaye, I, p.
553.

[40] Vol. II, p. 441. Some chroniclers attribute the design of the
convent to Brunelleschi, and the direction and execution of the work
to Michelozzi. The building was probably completed in 1443.

[41] Vasari, II, p. 441.

[42] Vol. II, p. 508.

[43] _Katalog der Gemälde-Sammlung der kgl. älteren Pinakothek in
München._ Mit einer historischen Einleitung von Dr. Franz von Reber.

[44] Vol. II, p. 507.

[45] See Vasari, II, p. 508, and Marchese, op. cit., I, p. 326 and
following.

[46] Marchese, _San Marco illustrato_, p. 40.

[47] Rio, op. cit., II. p. 314.

[48] Cartier, _Vie de Fra Angelico_, p. 231.

[49] Vasari, II, p. 511.

[50] Marchese, op. cit., I, p. 295.

[51] _Il Santuario della SS. Annunziata di Firenze_, Guida storica
illustrativa, compilata da un religioso dei servi di Maria. Firenze,
Ricci, 1876, p. 87.

[52] Vasari, II, p. 531, note 2.

[53] Rio, _De l'art chrétien_, p. 368. "Michelozzo paraît avoir, dans
ce tableau, de quarante-cinq à cinquante ans. Or, on suppose qu'il
était né vers 1396, ce qui placerait l'exécution de ce tableau
très-peu de temps avant le départ de l'artiste pour Rome, en 1445," p.
312, note i.

[54] Rio, op. cit., II, p. 318 et seq.

[55] Rio, op. cit, II, p. 315.

[56] Richa, _Le Chiese Fiorentine_, X, pp. 137-138.

[57] Vasari, II, p. 516.

[58] Vasari, II, p. 517.

[59] Vasari, II, p. 517.

[60] Luigi Fumi, _Il duomo d' Orvieto e i suoi restauri_. Roma,
Tipografia Cooperativa, p. 370.

[61] _Storia della Pittura Italiana_, III, p. 83.

[62] Müntz, _Les Arts à la cour des Papes_. Première partie, p. 92.

[63] Pératé, _Les Papes et les Arts_. Paris, Didot, 1895, p. 72.
Müntz, _Histoire de l'Art pendant la Renaissance_, I, p. 664, and M.
Faucon, _L'OEuvre de Fra Angelico à Rome in the Newspaper L'Art_,
1883, XXXV, pp. 141-147 and 167-175.

[64] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _A new history of painting in Italy_.
London, Murray, 1864, II, p. 500.



INDEX TO THE ILLUSTRATIONS.


The Annunciation (Convent of San Marco, Florence)       Frontispiece

Angels of the "Last Judgment"                          Page 5 and 28

History of St. Dominic's Life                                     32

The Resurrection of Cardinal De' Ceccani's Nephew                 33

Death of St. Dominic                                              34

The Annunciation (Church of Gesù, Cortona)                        35

The Marriage of the Virgin (Cortona)                              41

The Marriage of the Virgin (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)             41

The Visitation                                                    42

Adoration of the Magi                                             43

Adoration of the Magi (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)                  44

The Death of the Virgin (Cortona)                                 45

The Death of the Virgin (Uffizi Gallery, Florence)                45

Virgin and Child with Saints (Church of San Domenico, Cortona)    47

Madonna and Child (Pinacoteca, Perugia)                           49

Birth, Preaching and Miracles of St. Nicholas (Vatican, Rome)     51

The Death of St. Nicholas (Pinacoteca, Perugia)                   52

Virgin of the Annunciation (Pinacoteca, Perugia)                  54

View of the Convent of San Domenico near Fiesole                  57

Coronation of the Virgin (San Marco, Florence)                    59

Madonna della Stella (of the Star) (San Marco, Florence)          61

The Annunciation and the Adoration of the Magi
  (San Marco, Florence)                                           63

Predella (National Gallery, London)                               69

The Coronation of the Virgin (Museum of the
  Louvre, Paris)                                     To face page 72

The Coronation of the Virgin (Uffizi
  Gallery, Florence)                                 To face page 75

The Last Judgment (Ancient and Modern
  Gallery, Florence)                                 To face page 77

The Dance of the Blessed (Details from
  the Last Judgment)                                 To face page 81

The Last Judgment (Rome, National Gallery)                        84

The Last Judgment (Berlin Museum)                                 85

The Virgin of the Linen Weavers' Guild (Uffizi Gallery, Florence) 87

Angels with musical instruments from the Tabernacle
  of the Linen Weavers' Guild                              88 and 89

St. Mark                                                          90

St. John Baptist                                                  90

The Cloister of San Marco                                         97

Madonna and Child with Angels and Saints (Ancient and Modern
Gallery, Florence)                                               101

Christ on the Cross                                              105

St. Peter martyr                                                 108

Christ issuing from the sepulchre                                109

Christ in pilgrim's dress                                        111

The Crucifixion (San Marco, Florence)               To face page 112

The Annunciation                                                 116

"Noli me tangere"                                                117

The Transfiguration                                              118

The Risen Christ                                                 119

The Institution of the Holy Sacrament                            120

The Presentation in the Temple                                   121

Coronation of the Virgin                                         122

The Prayer in the Garden                                         123

Adoration of the Magi                                            124

The Crucifixion                                                  125

The Virgin enthroned amidst Saints                               126

St. Dominic, from the fresco of "Christ at the Pretorium"        129

The Descent from the Cross
(Ancient and Modern Gallery)                        To face page 133

View of Florence                                                 133

The dead Christ                                                  137

Flight into Egypt                                                142

Christ betrayed by Judas                                         144

The Resurrection of Lazarus                                      144

The Slaughter of the Innocents                                   145

Entombment of Christ                                             145

Coronation of the Virgin                                         146

The symbolic Wheel                                               147

The Madonna and Child with Saints (Annalena Convent)             148

The Madonna and Child with Angels and Saints (From the Convent
  of the Osservanza)                                             149

The Last Supper                                                  153

Christ in Judgment (Orvieto, Cathedral)                          157

The Prophets (Orvieto, Cathedral)                                161

The Preaching and Justification of St. Stephen (Vatican, Rome)   167

St. Laurence ordained deacon (Vatican, Rome)        To face page 167

Sixtus II. consigns the church treasures to St. Laurence
  (Vatican, Rome)                                   To face page 169

The distribution of alms (Vatican, Rome)            To face page 171

St. Bonaventure (Vatican, Rome)                                  171

Judgment of St. Laurence (Vatican, Rome)            To face page 173

[Illustration]





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