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Swansea U3A History of Art Year 1 Fra Angelico 1387-1455.

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Presentation on theme: "Swansea U3A History of Art Year 1 Fra Angelico 1387-1455."— Presentation transcript:

1 Swansea U3A History of Art Year 1 Fra Angelico 1387-1455

2 Background Born Guido di Pietro in a village north of Florence and apprenticed at an early age to a Florentine master. By 1417 he was registered as a painter in the St Nicholas Company. He became a Dominican monk (Fra Giovanni) about 1418 in Fiesole and ordained around 1427-29. Several years later the Fiesole monks were relocated to the newly constructed San Marco monastery Florence (Medici patronage). 1435-45 he and his assistants decorated the cell and corridor walls with frescos. The name Fra Angelico (angelic friar) was given to him by Christoforo Landino ( academic philosopher and poet 1424-1498) and ratified by popular consent. He was commissioned to paint frescos in Orvieto, Florence, Prato and St Peters Rome until his death in 1455. In 1449 The Pope offered him the title Archbishop of Florence but he rejected this in favour of Prior of Fiesole in 1450.

3 Motivation /Aims The painting of frescos in San Marco was a special time in the history of the Church because in 1419 (Council of Constance) Rome and Byzantium became separate in Christendom. Fra Angelico worked in this reinvigorated atmosphere. His paintings are considered prayers perfect for spiritual contemplation. “For him art was a religious vocation and he its instrument giving forms to teachings and focus to meditation in solitary cells.” A J Lemaitre and E Lessing-Florence and the Renaissance. “He carried the Renaissance spirit quietly and subtly into the Florentine monastery”. J Bryant Wilder art critic and writer.

4 Painting Mediums. Themes and Styles His fresco of the “Annunciation” shows his use of perspective.

5 Painting Mediums. Themes and Styles In Masaccio's “Holy trinity with the Virgin, St John and Doners -1425-28” the cloister where the Virgin kneels is represented as a vault however it is suggested that it was not Fra Angelico ‘s main aim to “break a hole in the wall” but to represent a sacred story.

6 Painting Mediums. Themes and Styles In his “Mocking of Christ” although a man spits at Jesus the spray never reaches him. Jesus sits erect and calm on a throne distancing himself from the suffering.

7 Painting Mediums. Themes and Styles At the foot St Dominic sits reading and Mary is meditating suggesting the event is happening in memory rather than present (J Bryant-Wilder- art critic and writer)and can’t disrupt the contemplative quiet of the painting or monastery.

8 Legacy The first phase of his career in art was using images to teach the faithful they should worship. He used accents of colour (blue, red and gold), representations of nature(fields, hills, flowers) and architecture to catch the eye.


10 Legacy He used linear perspective to create a sense of depth seen in the “Annunciation” by giving a realistic depiction of the cloister. The Virgin is motionless before the hieratic pose of the angel in the bare whitewashed cell. Thus he sought to bring out the relationship between the characters and created light through colour. He struck a balance between forms of the primitive and the quattrocento modernism.

11 Legacy His “The mocking of Christ "where disembodied hands harass Jesus is considered as calm and peaceful as meditation. The floating body parts in this painting could be said to be like a surreal painting.


13 Variances / Influences In his early years he was influenced by the miniatures of Santa Maria Novella and the massed group of figures all of which relate to the art of illumination. Lorenzo Monaco (painter and teacher to Fra Angelico)influenced his choice of colour (gold backgrounds) and the elasticity of his figures as seen in “Last Judgment” 1430.


15 His depictions of architectural settings shows the influence of Donatello and Masaccio while his sharpness of form and taste for arabesque shows his affinity with Sienese painting. He applied the new methods of Masaccio mainly to express the traditional ideas of religious art. Variances / Influences

16 Summary His frescos at San Marco are considered a unique vision. He is reported to have said “ to paint things of Christ one must live with Christ”. He may be said to belong to the Byzantine tradition by his association with pictorial and doctrinal message but his paintings show he was part of the early renaissance movement. He was open to oriental influences but not dazzled by opulence.

17 FRESSCOS These were usually very large paintings and meticulous planning was needed. Many assistants were required to mix and lay plaster, prepare colour, and to carry materials up scaffolding for the artist. The wall was first covered in a rough layer of plaster (trullisatio), then a slightly smoother coat (arriccio), then a plaster mix with more sand (arenato) onto which the composition was drawn. Sections of a final layer of plaster (intonaco) were laid to follow the lines of the composition. The amount of intonaco laid depended on what the artist could be completed in a day as the plaster had to remain fresh while painting. Pigment was mixed with water and applied to fresh (fresco) plaster which acted as a binder(medium). Sometimes detail was added on dry plaster(secco fresco). Pigment was then mixed with egg.

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