Author Topic: Fra Angelico: the Annunciation  (Read 198 times)

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Online josefamenendez

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Fra Angelico: the Annunciation
« on: March 25, 2020, 04:21:28 PM »
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    Offline Nadir

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    Re: Fra Angelico: the Annunciation
    « Reply #1 on: March 25, 2020, 04:41:08 PM »
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  • Fra Angelico or
    Bl. Giovanni de Fiesole,
     February 18
    Giovanni Pietro was born around in 1387 in the Mugello region to the north of Florence. At age 20, after hearing a sermon on Christmas of the great Dominican Fray Manfredo da Vercelli, he decided to enter the Order of the Preachers. He was admitted as a novice at the Monastery of San Domenico in Fiesole.
    The young man already showed great artistic aptitude, but he judged it his duty to sacrifice it for God. His brothers in the Order, however, dissuaded him from this idea and encouraged him to continue developing his skills. To that end, the Prior ordered him to illustrate the manuscripts and choir books in the Monastery library. The tranquility of his early years in religious life was broken by changes in the Monastery occasioned by the Western Schism. Since the Superior of Fiesole did not accept the pope that the Republic of Florence supported, he and his monks were obliged to abandon Fiesole in 1409. 
     This change added to the spiritual and artistic enrichment of Fray Giovanni, especially during the time that he spent in Foligno, close to Assisi, which the holy monk visited often. As a good Dominican, he had a great enthusiasm for the work of St. Thomas Aquinas, which he knew quite well. With it he nourished his piety, and over it he constructed the foundation for his own future work. It was in the Summa Theologiae that he discovered the correct reasoning for his aesthetic ideas.
     Three elements are needed for beauty, said St. Thomas:

    ofirst, integrity in the perfection, since things that are not complete lack form;
    osecond, proportion and harmony among the parts, and
    othird, clarity and splendor; things considered beautiful also have clear, bright colors.

    Fray Giovanni made this reasoning his golden rule.
     In 1418, the Dominicans of Fiesole returned to their Monastery and the holy friar was able to dedicate himself to his art. His first great work was an altarpiece, the Last Judgment, for the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli of Florence. After that came others, ever more numerous.
     The monks greatly admired both his work and piety. “Fra Angelico does not paint, he prays,” said one of them. His art, in effect, was a canticle of prayer. In the state of grace he placed his angels in the florid gardens of Heaven. It seemed that the angels he painted, so beautiful and pure, were actually present before him, and the crystalline notes of their singing would rise over the archways of the Monastery while he was giving life to them. Once an old friar opened the door to the cell of the painter and beheld him painting one of those marvels. He retired noiselessly, hidden in his hood.
     It was that discrete and unknown admirer who gave him the name of his glory: angelico Fra Angelico, the angelic friar.
     Only one religious before him had been worthy of bearing this title: St. Thomas, his guide and master. After that, Fra Angelico had only one care on earth – to merit the divine nickname and become the St. Thomas of the painters.
     In Rome Fra Angelico received the friendship and esteem of the Holy Father. Eugenius IV even judged him worthy of the Archbishopric of Florence, which was vacant. But he begged the Pope to choose in his place one of his brothers in the Dominican Order who had great humility and learning. Thus Fra Angelico named an Archbishop who would be canonized 100 year later, St. Antoninus of Florence, who fought tenaciously against the Renaissance.
     The humble friar who became one of the most famous artists of his time was still in Rome when he was taken by illness in the Dominican Monastery of Santa Maria-Sopra-Minerva. On the afternoon of February 18, 1485, the Monastery was enveloped in an intense silence. Each religious awaited the bell to sound announcing the last breaths of Fra Angelico.
     At 8 o’clock, the brief and woeful bell toned. In some minutes, the cell and corridor were filled with kneeling monks. The melody of the Salve Regina broke the silence while the face of Fra Angelico was illuminated with a calm smile. It is said that at the moment of his death tears slipped down the cheeks of the faces of all the angels of his pictures, those angels that he had painted without knowing that their aureoles would stand as testimony to his inimitable genius and elevated sanctity.


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