Visiting Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion? You must join the virtual exhibition queue when you arrive. If capacity has been reached for the day, the queue will close early.

Learn more
Fra Angelico

Fra Angelico

Kanter, Laurence, and Pia Palladino, with contributions by Magnolia Scudieri, Carl Brandon Strehlke, Victor M. Schmidt, and Anneke de Vries
348 pages
312 illustrations
View More Publication Info

In commemoration of the five hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of the death of Fra Angelico (about 1395–1455), one of the foremost artists of the Italian Renaissance, The Metropolitan Museum of Art set out to reexamine his career and to establish a more historically accurate profile of the innovative, extraordinarily gifted "angelic friar," in order to dispel the myths and legends that have eclipsed the details of his life. New documentary research and standards for attributions, developed over the last three decades, provided the impetus for this reappraisal—only the second major exhibition of Fra Angelico's art ever held, and the first since 1955. Comprising about seventy-five paintings, drawings, and manuscript illuminations ascribed to Angelico and spanning the period from 1410 to 1455, as well as about forty works by his collaborators, this presentation includes several newly discovered paintings and a number of new proposals for reconstructions of important, dispersed altarpieces. Additionally, drawings by the master are analyzed in terms of their original function and in the context of discussion of the artist's workshop, its identifiable members, and their respective contribution to its artistic output.

In essays and related entries, the first seven sections of the catalogue follow the course of Angelico's career. The study opens with his earliest, largely undocumented, activity as a painter (in the 1410s), before he joined the Dominican order, emphasizing those works that reflect his artistic, intellectual, and spiritual milieu. In dealing with the paintings of the 1420s, many of which will be unfamiliar to the general public and are the subject of widespread disagreement among scholars regarding dating and attribution, the authors attempt to establish their chronology within the master's oeuvre. The artist's mature, late production, punctuated by working sojourns in Rome, was centered around the altarpieces and frescoes—in Florence, Fiesole, Cortona, and Perugia—for which he is best known, but that cannot be lent to traveling exhibitions. Thus the focus here is on the masterpieces on a more intimate scale, such as the small, narrative predella panels and the many hauntingly beautiful images of the Virgin and Child, a subject to which he returned throughout his career. The essays and entries in the last four sections concern five of Angelico's assistants and followers: Battista di Biagio Sanguigni, Zanobi Strozzi, Pesellino, the Master of the Sherman Predella, and Benozzo Gozzoli.

All of the approximately 120 works that are the subjects of the entries are shown in full color and are augmented by many large details and illustrations of comparative works. A comprehensive selected bibliography and an index complete the volume.

Unfinished Design for a Choir Book: Initial with Scene of Christ Entering the Temple., Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni)  Italian, Pen and pale grayish brown ink, brush and pale grayish brown wash (figural scene), pen and pale brown ink, over construction in leadpoint, ruling and compass work (ornamental parts), ruled lines in red ink, notes and words in pen and dark brown ink (musical score), on vellum
Two Monks Looking up at a Dragon in a Tower, Anonymous, Italian, Tuscan, early 15th century  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, on vellum
The Crucifixion, Fra Angelico (Guido di Pietro)  Italian, Tempera on wood, gold ground
ca. 1420–23
Saint Alexander, Fra Angelico (Guido di Pietro)  Italian, Tempera on wood, gold ground
ca. 1425
Justice, Fra Angelico (Guido di Pietro)  Italian, Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash (the blade of the sword in pen and darker brown ink)
ca. 1440
The Nativity, Zanobi Strozzi  Italian, Tempera and gold on wood
ca. 1433–34
King David in Prayer in an Initial B, Zanobi Strozzi  Italian, Tempera on parchment
ca. 1450
The Nativity, Zanobi Strozzi  Italian, Tempera and gold on wood
Madonna and Child, Master of the Lanckoronski Annunciation  Italian, Tempera and gold on wood
Virgin and Child in a niche, Luca della Robbia  Italian, Glazed terracotta with gilt and painted details, Italian, Florence
ca. 1460
Madonna and Child with Six Saints, Pesellino (Francesco di Stefano)  Italian, Tempera on wood, gold ground
late 1440s
The Intercession of Christ and the Virgin, Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni)  Italian, Tempera on canvas, Italian
before 1402

View Citations

Kanter, Laurence B., Angelico, Pia Palladino, and Magnolia Scudieri. 2005. Fra Angelico. New York : New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art ; Yale University Press.