Fra Angelico, ‘The Entombment of Christ’, ca. 1450, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Samuel H. Kress Collection

About Fra Angelico

Lauded as the “angelic painter” after his death, Fra Angelico (known during his life as Fra Giovanni), pioneered volume measuring as the basis for modeling forms with light and shadow, the logical rendering of perspective, and other techniques that would come to characterize early Renaissance painting. He learned the use of mathematical perspective and sculptural treatment of human figures from the younger artist Masaccio, whose untimely death left Fra Angelico in the position to seize the mantel as Florence’s most modern and in-demand artist. The Medici-commissioned altarpiece he painted in the San Marco monastery (1438-43), considered the pinnacle of Fra Angelico’s career, exemplifies his groundbreaking narrative approach to painting. In it, he abandoned the traditional Gothic altarpiece format, rendering Madonna and child and all the surrounding saints and angels against a naturalistic background in a single square picture field.

Italian, ca. 1395 - 1455, Vicchio, Italy, based in Florence and Rome