The 15th Century painter Angelico, known for centuries as Beato-blessed-was officially recognised as such in July, when Pope John Paul announced his Beatification - an honour considered as a first step towards sainthood.
GV PAN Cortona museum facade and outbuildings (2 SHOTS)
GV Sign Museo Diocesano
CU Face of Angel in 'Annunciation' PULL BACK TO GV Annunciation
SV PULL BACK TO GV Label: Life of St. Dominic, and paintings
CU Detail of above: ST. Dominic with sick man who rises
FLORENCE: MUSEO SAN MARCO
CU PULL BACK TO GV Child Jesus holding orb in his left hand, and Virgin Mary, on throne, surrounded by eight saints -- 4 on each side
SCU Detail of crucifixion, St. Ann and Virgin Mary and disciple supporting weeping Mary Magdalene
GV PAN People looking at paintings in cloister
SCU PULL BACK TO GV Virgin and Child, with saints, enthroned
SCU PULL BACK TO GV 'Annunciation' fresco
GV ZOOM IN TO SV Apparition of Jesus to Magdalene
SCU PULL BACK TO GV 'The Mocking Christ' with St. Dominic at his feet
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Background: The 15th Century painter Angelico, known for centuries as Beato-blessed-was officially recognised as such in July, when Pope John Paul announced his Beatification - an honour considered as a first step towards sainthood. Born near Florence in about 1400 as Guido di Pietro, Fra Angelico had already gained a reputation as a painter by 1420, when he joined the Dominician Order. From then on he led the pious life of a monk, using his talent to glorify God and His Church. In about 1440, Angelico entered the monastery of San Marco in Florence, where he did most of his work a mural painter. He was commissioned by the powerful Cosimo de Medici the Elder, a patron of the arts, to execute an altarpiece. Not long after his death in 1455, he became known as Angelico because of his moral virtues. As a Dominican friar, Angelico followed in his arts the medieval tradition which discouraged individual inspiration. But as an artist, he used technical innovations of the Renaissance Florentine, to enhance the educational - or didactic - purpose of his work.
SYNOPSIS: In the 1430s, Angelico painted the 'Annunciation', now kept in Cortona, where he stayed for a while. The subject matter, taken from the Gospels, emphasises the artist's didactic purpose. Yet the use of perspective, and of light and shadows in the garments' folds, provides a new, three-dimensional effect in medieval paintings.
In the frieze-like series of tableaux recording events in the life of the Order's founder Saint Dominic, the Saint, clad in the black and white Dominican garment, is identifiable by the star on his halo.
'The Virgin and Child Enthroned', with saints on either side, is one of the first ever example of a Sacra Conversazione - sacred conversation - where the saintly figures are united by a common action such as worships. It replaced an earlier form of altarpiece, where each personage occupied one full panel.
In the 'Crucifixion', Mary Magdalene, her back turned on the onlooker, is still clearly indentifiable by her loose, flowing hair - a Christian symbol of penitence allied to an episode related in the Gospel according to Saint Luke.
Angelico's paintings are now scattered in galleries around the world, but the San Marco and Diocesano museums contain the better part of his work. His interpretation of the same subject matter varied with its setting. In the 'Annunciation' fresco in San Marco, the architecture, landscape and figures are reduced to essentials so as not to disrupt the monks' daily meditations.
The white of Christ's garment in the 'Apparition of Jesus to Mary Magdalene's echoes a description in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, where it is referred to as 'white as light'.
In the 'Mocking of Christ', the disembodied hand which appears in the top right of the painting reminds the public that Christ was slapped in the face by his tormentors.
Angelico's art, after a period of neglect was re-discovered by 19th Century artist, and critics such as John Ruskin, who wrote that Angelico was an inspired saint rather than an artist. The Renaissance artist's Beatification adds weight to Ruskin's remark, which tallied with the Romantic Schools' conception of the artist as an inspired prophet and teacher.